In a surprise move, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced today that, effective immediately, he is abolishing RIA Novosti, the Russian state-owned news agency, along with Voice of Russia radio.
RIA Novosti will be replaced with a news agency called Russia Today that will be headed by Dmitry Kiselev, whom the BBC calls a "keen Kremlin supporter." Their report continues:
Sergey Ivanov, the head of the Kremlin administration, has told journalists in Moscow that the news agency is being restructured in order to make it more economical while increasing its reach, Interfax reports...
"Russia pursues an independent policy and robustly defends its national interests. It's not easy to explain that to the world, but we can and must do this," he said.
For many Kremlin critics in Russia, that phrase suggests this is a sinister move by President Putin, says the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow.
During Mr Putin's time as Russia's leader, RIA Novosti has tried hard to produce balanced coverage for Russian and international audiences, our correspondent says.
Although state-owned, it has reflected the views of the opposition and covered difficult topics for the Kremlin, our correspondent adds.
In addition to being a Kremlin mouthpiece, Kiselev is also a rabid homophobe. As we reported this summer here on Bilerico, he not only backs Putin's draconian ban on so-called "gay propaganda," but he thinks the law doesn't go far enough. "I think... [gays] should be banned from donating blood, sperm," he said in front of a live television audience. "And their hearts, in case of the automobile accident, should be buried in the ground or burned as unsuitable for the continuation of life."
The audience resoundingly applauded.
Later that same week, Kiselev blamed gay-bashing victims for the hate crimes perpetrated against them, saying:
"Our [Russian] problem with homosexuals is that they behave in a provocative, victim-like way. They deliberately provoke situations, so that they become victims. Nobody prevents them from loving each other the way they want to. They are aggressively foisting minority's values on majority. It is likely that society would counteract this. Naturally, right? In various ways, including brutal ones. Since they are brutally foisting this [on others]. Wanna fight? Get it, then. So what?"
And this vile bigot is the man who will be in charge of Russia's new state-controlled news agency. Frightening, isn't it?