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Three top editors leave Russian media group under alleged Kremlin pressure

The three editors at the Russian RBC media group resigned after "disagreements with management." RBC is one of Russia's few independent media outlets.

Three editors at top Russian media holding firm RBC announced on Friday that they were resigning, with director Nikolay Molibog saying that they had disagreed with the management "on a number of crucial issues."

In a statement, RBC said the resignations of Elizaveta Osetinskaya, Maxim Solyus and Roman Badanin were effective immediately.

The company, whose website was ranked the most-visited news website in Russia last year, has published several disclosures about the commercial interests of people close to President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin-critical reports

Badanin, editor of RBC's news service, told The Associate Press that he and his colleagues had resigned under pressure, including a fraud probe and police raids around the company. He said that "views on the editorial policy [had] diverged as the company found itself under pressure."

Intelligence officers from Russia's federal security agency FSB

searched the offices of RBC owner Mikhail Prokhorov

just days after the media outlet published a profile of

billionaire cellist Sergei Roldugin,

a close friend of Putin whose name was linked to offshore accounts listed in the Panama Papers.

Mikhail Prokhorov

Law enforcement officers raided Prokhorov's Onexim group offices last month

Top investigators launched a fraud probe into the media company a few weeks later.

In another move likely to have raised the Kremlin's ire, the RBC newspaper on Wednesday published an article asserting that oyster farming was about to begin near a large property in southern Russia that has been dubbed "Putin's Palace" by the media.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that the president is linked to the property in any way.

Interfax news agency on Friday cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that no pressure had been exerted on the editors who had resigned.

RBC is one of the few independent media outlets in Russia, and certainly among those with the widest reach. Its owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, also owns the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

tj/kms (Reuters, AP)

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