British newspaper The Independent is set to launch an online Russian-language edition starting this month, according to Russia’s RBC media portal.
Russian media magnate Alexander Lebedev, the financial backer of both the Independent and the Evening Standard, provided no specific date of the launch.
Artem Artemov, the editor overseeing the roll out, told RBC that the Russian edition would consist exclusively of Russian translations of the Independent’s articles, and would be a purely digital venture.
Artemov added that the Russian edition has been testing a pilot website since February which it will make available to the public within the next fortnight.
It comes just over a year after the British publication found itself caught in a press freedom tangle in Turkey, after the Independent’s Turkish-language site was banned in Ankara over its connections to Riyadh.
In 2016, the British newspaper closed its print operations following years of declining sales, and made the transition to an online-only publication. In addition to its US version, the publisher in 2018 rolled out four Independent-branded sites in the Middle East.
Although the sites bear the Independent’s branding, their content is mostly produced by journalists from the Riyadh-based firm Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), alongside translated articles from the Independent’s English-language website into Arabic, Urdu, Turkish and Persian.
The Independent’s switch to digital has allowed it to maintain popularity among readers. It’s British counterpart had an average monthly audience of almost 22m individuals in the UK last year, according to data firm Statistia.
The Independent did not respond to requests for comment.