– President Vladimir Putin dissolved one of Russia’s official news agencies, RIA Novosti, along with its international radio broadcaster Monday, signaling a reorganization in state media at a time when Russia’s international reputation has faced criticism over political and human rights and Russian influence in neighboring countries like Ukraine.

The two agencies will be absorbed into a new state organization known as Rossiya Sevodnya, or Russia Today, to be led by a television executive and host, Dmitry Kiselyov, who has provoked controversy with homophobic remarks and virulent commentary about foreign conspiracies against Russia.

Putin’s presidential chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, said the decision was part of an effort to reduce costs, but RIA Novosti’s report on its own demise said the changes “appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector.”

The timing was also unclear and, to many, puzzling. RIA Novosti is one of the official sponsors of the Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi in February.

New York Times