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Putin names controversial anchor to head news agency

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin Monday unleashed a wave of controversy in the Russian media world by naming a news anchorman notorious for his anti-opposition and anti-gay views to head a revamped state news agency.

Putin signed a decree dissolving Russia's biggest news agency RIA Novosti, ordering the creation in its place of a new media conglomerate.

The new company Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) will focus on “coverage abroad of Russian state policy and public life,” the document published on the Kremlin website said.

It explained the measure to create the vast holding with multilingual services as a way of “raising efficiency of state media resources.”

The move appears as a push by the Kremlin to consolidate state media resources at a time of increasing online criticism of Putin's 13 years of rule and to take a pro-active approach in shaping Russia's image abroad.

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