MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s oldest state news agency TASS will cut a quarter of its staff in the coming months and drastically reduce expenses due to a “tough” economic situation, it said Friday.
“A total of 25 per cent of staff will be laid off,” strategic development director Natalia Akafyeva told AFP. “Some departments, for example videographics, are closing altogether… unfortunately, journalists will also be laid off.”
“Unfortunately, it is because of the tough economic situation,” she said, adding that the remaining staff will see their salaries shrink by 10 to 20 per cent.
TASS originates from the tsarist era’s Saint-Petersburg Telegraph Agency but became especially prominent in Soviet times as the country’s principal news source and a mouthpiece for its Communist government.
Last year it celebrated its 110th anniversary. It recently switched back to its Soviet name after being called ITAR-TASS for over two decades.
Late last year it also launched a huge interactive website praising President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power as a “new era”, contrasting coloured pictures of successes of various industries during his rule with monochrome photos of Russia in the 1990s showing ruins, wars and despair.
According to TASS’s website, it employs over 1,500 people in Russia and its bureaus abroad – from Washington to Pyongyang.