In an unusual retraction, the Kommersant newspaper apologized to activist blogger Alexei Navalny for publishing an article in Thursday's issue that questioned his whistleblowing activities into Transneft and accused him of defaming the state company.
Kommersant also said it had severed ties with the freelance journalist, Yelena Sorokina, who authored the article because of her "propaganda and bias."
The article, titled "Pipeline Waste," said documents published by Navalny on his LiveJournal blog in November that suggested Transneft insiders stole $4 billion during the construction of a pipeline to China were no scoop but "intentionally released information" mistakenly accepted as genuine by "students and marginal politicians."
Nalavny immediately denounced the article as an orchestrated campaign against him.
Later Thursday, the article was deleted from the newspaper's web site, Kommersant publishing house chief Demyan Kudryavtsev said on his blog, offering apologies to Navalny and readers.