TALLINN - Elmar Sepp, a member of the board of Estonia's Juri Vilms's Fund, which publishes the popular Russian-language newspaper Vesti Dnja, has announced that the Fund has decided to suspend further issues of the newspaper.
"The suspension decision is made on the basis of our desire to avoid increasing the debt load of the Fund in front of the state and our employees" said Sepp on April 20.
"The board does not believe in the rapid growth of the advertising market and the mitigation of the economic crisis in the Republic of Estonia. We hope for our partners and colleague's understanding" Sepp said.
The daily newspaper Vesti Dnja was created based on the newspaper Soviet Estonia that was published in Soviet times. In 1994, when Estonia restored its independence, Soviet Estonia was removed from the name of the newspaper 's and finally in 2004 it was re-named as Vesti Dnja.
The newspaper is owned by the Juri Vilms's Fund, which is known for its close connection with the Center Party. It has recently become well known for its clear opposition to the present government.
Sepp said the last six months have been extremely difficult for the Juri Vilms's Fund.
In the fall of 2008, the name of the Juri Vilms's Fund was involved in a scandal over veiled sponsorship from the Centrist party. The Fund received about 500,000 kroons from Tallinn's Pharmaceutical Plant, which allegedly paid for an advertisement in the newspaper that was never published.
Shortly after the transfer, however, Tallinn's Pharmaceutical Plant received permission from the municipality of Tallinn, which is governed by the Centrists, for the construction of tall buildings on its site.
"We have been the object of political and mass media attacks, beside that, within recent months, criminal proceedings were instituted against the Fund, which complicated the rhythm of daily work," said Sepp.
"Also, it should be acknowledged that the deep economic downturn has not bypassed the newspaper Vesti Dnja. A sharp drop in the newspaper advertising market directly affects us. Today's advertising revenue is substantially less than even six months ago, not to mention [less] than it was a year ago and earlier," he said.
Following the closure of Vesti Dnja there are only two daily newspapers published in Russian left in Estonia 's the Russian-language version of Postimees and Molodjozh Estonii.
"Changes in the market of newspapers published in Russian should be considered in the longer term. The rapid economic growth for some time has created opportunities for the emergence of new newspaper companies," said Eric Roosi, General Director of Postimees.
"In an economic downturn the money, or rather the lack [thereof], has become more important than good work of an editorial nature or interesting articles. In addition, personally I have the impression that many Russian newspapers focused all their attention on the wording and content of the newspaper" said Roosi.
Roosi believes that inability to create a normal system of advertising sales, motivating employees and creating a network of clients, in addition to the economic downturn and increased competition, has been fatal for Vesti Dnja.
And while previous competitors talk about the possible reasons for such a big player leaving the market and how it will affect new market distribution for each company, average readers are confused what will happen to their subscriptions.
"I don't know anything, on Monday I did not receive my usual newspaper's issue. I called the Post office, they said they don't know what's going on and in the Editorial Board no one has answered the phone. Of course I am sorry that the newspaper has closed, but I am more interested in what will happen to my subscription money," said Maria Ivanova, a subscriber to Vesti Dnja.