Former senior editors and journalists from the Vedomosti business daily are launching a new media project after the appointment of a pro-Kremlin editor-in-chief sparked accusations of censorship and a mass departure of staff from the paper.

VTimes aims to continue Vedomosti’s tradition of independent journalism and editorial objectivity.

“More than ever before Russia needs independent sources of information that can be trusted and platforms for the free exchange of opinions and professional expertise,” Alexander Gubski, one of the project’s founders and the former deputy editor at Vedomosti, told The Moscow Times. 

A number of experts and columnists who previously wrote for Vedomosti have confirmed their cooperation with VTimes, according to the press release announcing the project.

Vedomosti’s writers and editors had clashed with acting chief editor Andrei Shmarov, who was appointed after the newspaper’s previous owner announced its sale this spring. 

Shmarov has been accused of banning coverage of negative opinion polls on President Vladimir Putin and threatening to fire those who criticize the president’s controversial constitutional amendments, as well as interfering in coverage of state oil giant Rosneft.

Derk Sauer, Vedomosti’s founder and the publisher of The Moscow Times, is an adviser to the project.