Norwegian publisher Amedia said Tuesday it was transferring control over its Russian printing houses to Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, chief editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The announcement came as the media group also announced it was leaving Russia over the country's invasion of Ukraine.

"With what we are currently witnessing in Ukraine from the Russian authorities, it is impossible for Amedia to continue the printing business in the country," Amedia chief executive Anders Moller Opdahl said in a statement.

"Amedia is now withdrawing, in a way that leaves control to Peace Prize laureate Muratov," Opdahl added.

Board chairman Andre Stoylen said the company believed this was "the best possible solution given the prevailing circumstances."

"In this way, the printing houses will be able to continue being important for independent media in Russia in the future," Stoylen said.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov: 'Independent media are the antidote to war'
Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov: 'Independent media are the antidote to war' AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF

Muratov, who together with Maria Ressa of the Philippines was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, would have full control of daily operations and "exercise all shareholder rights at his own discretion" of the four printing houses wholly owned by Amedia's Russian subsidiary.

Novaya Gazeta, which was already using the printing presses of Amedia's subsidiary, announced in late March that it had suspended its publication until the end of Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

"This will support free expression of opinion, and all profits will be contributed to promoting it. Independent media are the antidote to war. We will take care of the open printing business and the employees," Muratov said in a statement, adding his paper welcomed the resource with "great gratitude."

Amedia also said it had written down the value of its Russian operations from 38 million Norwegian kroner ($4.4 million, 4 million euros) to zero.

In total the Norwegian publisher owns six printing houses in Russia, four of them wholly-owned and two together with Russian minority shareholders.

"Amedia is working on a solution with the minority shareholders in the last two printing companies, so that the group can withdraw completely from Russia," the company said, adding that funds from a potential future sale would be used to support independent media in Russia.