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Russia's State-Owned Gas Firm to Buy Controlling <i>Izvestia</i> Stake

Russia's state-owned natural gas firm Gazprom has announced plans to buy a controlling stake in the Russian daily Izvestia.

A spokesman for Gazprom media says negotiations are almost complete, with an announcement in coming days.

The Vedomosti business daily quotes industry officials as speculating the deal could be worth between $10 million to $20 million.

Critics call the move a Kremlin effort to tighten its influence on the media. The government already controls national television and radio networks.

An editor at Izvestia resigned last year in what he said was a dispute over the newspaper's coverage of the Beslan school crisis in which more than 330 people were killed.

He said he was forced to resign over coverage the paper's leadership deemed too shocking. The newspaper printed graphic pictures of the bloody siege. Some speculated that coverage upset the Kremlin.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.