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Russia to unveil 24x7 English news channel

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MUMBAI: It's not just the French that are looking to present their point of view to a wider global audience. To air the Russian perspective to the international audience and media, a 24-hour English news channel Russia Today is soon to be launched by state-funded RIA Novosti news agency.

According to media reports, Russia Today is scheduled to go on air by end-2005. The Russian equivalent of 'Voice of America', which is a brainchild Mikhail Y. Lesin, a media businessman and an advisor to President Vladimir V Putin who is realising a long-cherished goal.

The 24-hour news channel will broadcast to Europe, North America and Asia, to reflect the Russian voice. The news channel will cover international as well as Russian news. The channel will employee as many as 200 professionals and has a budget of about $30 million.

Margarita Simonyan has been named editor in-chief of Russia Today.

Simonyan said, "We do not want to change the professional format developed by such TV channels as the BBC, CNN and Euronews. We want to reflect Russia's opinion of the world and to make Russia clearer for understanding."

The state-controlled RIA-Novosti news agency and television station Rossiya will provide journalists and premises for Russia Today TV.

Some observers have suggested that the creation of the channel is a financially dubious effort to counter Western concerns that President Vladimir Putin is returning to more authoritarian Soviet ways, sparked in part by the politically charged drive against oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his Yukos oil empire.

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