Europe

RT editor Simonyan to head Kremlin-backed news agency

Margarita Simonyan
Image caption Margarita Simonyan has impressed the Kremlin as head of international broadcaster RT

The editor of Russian international broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonyan, is to head a new news agency, as the Kremlin consolidates its media hold.

Simonyan, 33, will merge her RT post with the role of editor-in-chief at Russia Today, which will replace state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

President Vladimir Putin shut down RIA Novosti, which was respected for its news coverage, earlier this month.

Simonyan is known for her willingness to spar with critics on Twitter.

Under her leadership, RT has developed into a major international broadcaster with services in English, Arabic and Spanish, but is regarded by many as solidly pro-Kremlin.

The channel recently said its signal was carried by 22 satellites and more than 230 operators, allowing for some 630 million people to watch it in more than 100 countries.

Russia Today's managing director will be controversial journalist and keen Kremlin supporter Dmitry Kiselev, who is known for his ultra-conservative views, such as saying that gay people should be banned from giving blood, and that their hearts should be burnt rather than used in transplants.

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