MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former election spokesman has been appointed to run the state news agency TASS, according to a government order published on Wednesday.

The Kremlin has tightened its control over the media since the start of the Ukraine war, forcing the closure of leading independent news outlets and designating many journalists and publications as “foreign agents”.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order dismissing Sergei Mikhailov as general director of TASS and appointing Andrei Kondrashov in his place. Mikhailov had served as general director since 2012.

Kondrashov, 50, is a state television journalist who in 2018 worked as the press secretary of Putin’s election headquarters.

TASS traces its history back to 1904 when it was founded as the St Petersburg Telegraph Agency, the first official news agency of Russia. It has retained its Soviet-era name, whose initials stand for Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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