For quite some time on the morning of May 9, the pro-establishment Russian media outlet Lenta was flooded with anti-war pieces criticizing President Vladimir Putin for misleading regarding the Ukraine crisis and describing him as a “pathetic, paranoid dictator.” Two writers working for the media organization decided on May 9 – the very day Russia commemorates the Soviet Union’s triumph against Nazi Germany – to flood the website with stories scathing of Putin’s administration. The two rogue employees in question, named Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova by Meduza, a Russia-focused alternative media outlet operating from Latvia, explained to The Guardian that their move was “the only right thing” they were capable of in the ongoing scenario.

“This is not the point of Victory Day. In Ukraine, ordinary people are dying, including innocent mothers and children. This isn’t going to stop, given the rhetoric we’ve witnessed. This was no longer acceptable. We had no choice but to do what was right,” said Polyakov, a 30-year-old business writer, while speaking to The Guardian. Every one of the anti-Putin pieces, a sum of 20, has subsequently been removed from the site and swapped with authorized items for circulation, however, the anti-war content can nevertheless be found on the Internet Archive. They were intended to combat weeks of pro-Kremlin material released by the media outlet since the Ukraine conflict started on February 24.

All of the renegade employees’ posts had a note that they were “not cleared by the leadership” and would be changed shortly. As per Meduza, which was the first news organization to break the story, the notice read: “In other words: TAKE A SCREENSHOT NOW before they erase it.” Lenta was originally an independently-operated news organization headed by Galina Timchenko, who is currently the executive editor of Meduza.

Back in 2014, Timchenko was sacked and substituted with Alexey Goreslavksy, a pro-establishment reporter. After that, the majority of Lenta’s workforce resigned in revolt, and several of them started working for Meduza. Rambler, the company that owns Lenta, was purchased by Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, in 2020. As per The Guardian, the news portal has a significant reach in Russia, with over 200 million visitors on a monthly basis. As per Meduza, both Polyakov and Miroshnikova are presently not in Russia. Polyakov has acknowledged that his login credentials for Lenta’s content management system (CMS) are no longer working.

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