Almost a dozen journalists covering political news for the prominent Russian newspaper Kommersant have quit their jobs in solidarity with two colleagues who were fired over an article about a possible change of leadership in the upper chamber of parliament, reporters say.
In a Facebook post on May 20, Kommersant correspondent Gleb Cherkasov wrote that he and 10 other reporters tendered their resignations after a deputy chief editor of the newspaper's political unit, Maksim Ivanov, and special correspondent Ivan Safronov were fired at the request of shareholders as a result of their article saying that Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko might be leaving the post.
"A shareholder has a right to make staff decisions, and employees have the right not to agree with them in the only way possible -- by changing jobs," Cherkasov wrote.
Cherkasov's post came minutes after Ivanov wrote on Facebook that May 20 was the last day at work for him and Safronov.
The article about the possible demotion of Matviyenko, a staunch Kremlin ally and former St. Petersburg governor who has headed the upper house since 2011, was published on April 17. It cited sources close to the government as saying that spy chief Sergei Naryshkin, head of the External Intelligence Service, might replace Matviyenko in May and that she might be moved to a position in the state Pension Fund.
Also on April 17, Dozhd television channel reported that Matviyenko's possible removal from her post was under discussion in the Kremlin and that it might be connected to the arrest in a murder probe of Federation Council member Rauf Arashukov, who was detained during a session of the upper house in January.
Representatives of Kommersant's owner, tycoon Alisher Usmanov, have made no official statements about the journalists.
In March, Kommersant journalist Maria Karpenko said she was fired over her reports about acting St. Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov's election campaign.