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Usmanov did not take part in decision to fire Kommersant journalists, says representative

Earlier, it was reported that deputy editor-in-chief Gleb Cherkasov and a number of journalists resigned over dismissal special correspondent Ivan Safronov, Politics dept deputy editor Maxim Ivanov

MOSCOW, May 20. / TASS /. Alisher Usmanov, a shareholder of the Kommersant publishing house, did not take part in the decision to let go two Kommersant employees and found out about them from press, the entrepreneur’s representative told TASS on Monday.

"The shareholder does not interfere in the editorial policy and, moreover, does not make decisions on the dismissal or hiring of journalists. Alisher [Burkhanovich] found out about the dismissal of Kommersant employees from press," the agency’s source said.

Earlier, it was made public that Gleb Cherkasov, deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper Kommersant, and a number of leading journalists resigned on Monday, over the decision to dismiss special correspondent Ivan Safronov and deputy editor of the Politics department Maxim Ivanov, Cherkasov wrote on Facebook.

"A few days ago, at the initiative of the shareholders, the Kommersant Publishing House severed labor relations with the Special Correspondent Ivan Safronov and Deputy Editor of the Policy Department Maxim Ivanov. The reason for this is the publication on the possible change of the Federation Council speaker. The shareholder has the right to make personnel decisions, the employees have the right to disagree with them in the only possible way - changing their place of work," wrote Cherkasov.

According to him, Alla Barakhova, the head of the political department, her deputy Maria-Louise Tirmaste, correspondents Natalya Korchenkova, Alexandra Djordjevic, Sofia Samokhina, Elizaveta Miller, Katerina Grobman, Vsevolod Inyutin, columnist Viktor Khamrayev and special correspondent Anna Puskarskaya also resigned. All these employees, Cherkasov said, "plan to complete their work commitments in the near future."

As the Vedomosti newspaper clarified, letters of resignation were filed by all employees of the Politics department and their supervisors. According to the publication, the decision to dismiss Safronov and Ivanov was taken by shareholder Alisher Usmanov.

"We parted with journalists because the editorial standards of Kommersant were violated during the preparation of the article," the publication quotes Vladimir Zhelonkin, the Kommersant General Director. At the same time, he did not disclose what exactly was violated and refused to comment on the interference of shareholders.

The materials about the possible resignation of Valentina Matvienko was published in Kommersant on April 17. It said that in May, the Federation Council Speaker would discuss the possibility of leaving the post with President Putin. The most likely candidate for her position was Sergey Naryshkin, head of the Foreign Intelligence Service.