Owners of Russian tabloid Moskovsky Korrespondent have suspended its publications while its editor-in-chief has resigned in the wake of an unsubstantiated report that President Vladimir Putin was planning to wed a rhythmic gymnast-turned-lawmaker less than half his age.
"I have decided to stop financing the newspaper and consecutively its publication, which is related to large costs for its publication and disagreements with the editorial regarding its concept," Director-General Artyom Artyomov of 'National Media Company', which publishes Moskovsky Korrespondent, was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Moskovsky Korrespondent's editor-in-chief Grigory Nekhoroshev resigned after accepting in Friday's editorial that the report about the "wedding" of Putin with 25-year-old Alina Kabayeva was baseless and apologised for causing "moral sufferings" to them.
However, the publisher underscored that the suspension of the newspaper's publication has nothing to do with the controversial article and denied that it was politically motivated.
"This is purely a business story, we will decide on a new concept for the newspaper and a business plan for its development in the near future," Artyomov said.
National Media Company is owned by former KGB agent-turned-billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who is also a major stake-holder in the Russian national airlines Aeroflot.
He had earlier demanded that the editorial should either prove the authenticity of report or under the media law bear all the consequences.
On Friday, at his news conference in Sardinia (Italy), Putin had said that not a single word in the story was true including his alleged separation with wife Lyudmila.
"There is not a single word of truth" in the story, Putin said at a joint press conference with the Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi.
In its weekend issue, the tabloid, specialising on spicy gossip about celebrities, had reported that 55-year-old Putin was planning to wed former Olympic rhythmic gymnast Kabayeva on June 15.