Russian state TV launches program devoted to Putin

Russian state TV launches program devoted to Putin
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Russian state-owned television on Sunday night reportedly aired the first episode of a new weekly program dedicated to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The program, titled "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin." focuses on Putin's work to address issues facing the country, as well as his outreach efforts to ordinary citizens, The Associated Press reported.

The first episode included an interview with Putin's spokesman, and a segment on the Russian leader's hiking trip last month.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the government did not commission the TV show, and insisted the program was handled in a balanced fashion, the AP reported.

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According to the AP, the weekly program is seen as a new front for Russian state-owned television, despite efforts from the Kremlin to exert control over broadcast media since Putin took office.

Russia has faced widespread criticism for infringing on press freedom under Putin, and dozens of journalists have been killed or gone missing in recent years. 

Three Russian journalists were killed last month in the Central African Republic as they were looking into mercenaries with connections to the Kremlin.

The U.S. State Department in July condemned a bill from the Russian legislature which would require individual journalists to register as foreign agents. The State Department suggested the legislation was meant as a retaliatory tool.