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Russian newspaper, WikiLeaks team up

Bloomberg News / December 23, 2010

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A Moscow newspaper controlled in part by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev will join forces with WikiLeaks to expose corruption in Russia.

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes secret government and corporate documents online, has materials specifically about Russia that have not been published, and Novaya Gazeta will help make them public, the newspaper said on its website yesterday.

“Assange said that Russians will soon find out a lot about their country, and he wasn’t bluffing,’’ Novaya Gazeta said. “Our collaboration will expose corruption at the top tiers of political power. No one is protected from the truth.’’

The weekly newspaper, which is funded largely by billionaire Alexander Lebedev, is known for its critical reports about the Kremlin and investigative coverage of Russian affairs. Most of the media industry in Russia is dominated by state-run companies.

Novaya Gazeta correspondent Anna Politkovskaya, who wrote about graft under former president Vladimir Putin and chronicled abuses by military forces in Chechnya, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment building in 2006, on Putin’s birthday.

Novaya Gazeta received unlimited access to the WikiLeaks database, which has a wide range of materials, including documents about Politkovskaya’s murder and information about Russian politicians’ ties to organized crime, Nadezhda Prusenkova, a Novaya Gazeta spokeswoman, said by phone from Moscow. The newspaper will start releasing materials next month.

President Dmitry Medvedev said the US State Department cables already published by WikiLeaks don’t hurt Russia’s interests and that Russian authorities don’t care what’s being discussed in diplomatic circles.

“When people communicate, they sometimes use very harsh language, and if such a leak had happened from our Foreign Ministry or secrete services, many of our partners, including Americans, would have got an emotional charge after reading ‘kind words’ about themselves,’’ Medvedev said during a meeting with students in Mumbai yesterday.

WikiLeaks has been condemned by the US government for posting thousands of classified diplomatic and military documents.

Assange was released from a London prison on bail Dec. 16. He turned himself in to British authorities Dec. 7 after Sweden issued a warrant for his extradition on counts of sexual molestation and rape.

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