Moscow launches its own CNNski

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The Independent Online

This may sound far-fetched but the project is already well advanced and the channel, to be called Russia Today, is expected to go on air before the end of the year. It will offer a mixture of international news "from a Russian perspective" as well as domestic Russian news. With 500 staff, including 200 journalists, it will have overseas bureaux in London and Washington.

In a deliberate attempt to parry suggestions that it will be some stodgy Soviet-style propaganda outfit, its director-general is a bubbly 26-year-old called Margarita Simonyan.

Under her leadership, Russia Today has already been busy recruiting foreign journalists. Government-financed, it will draw heavily on the state-controlled RIA Novosti news agency for much of its content.

It makes no secret of the fact that it wants to act as an antidote to foreigners' often gloomy take on Russian current affairs. President Putin told loyalists recently that he was fed up watching foreign TV reports about his country.

"I often watch foreign TV and almost everywhere they are saying the same thing [about Russia]," he said.

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