By Nick Butler

The English language site of Ria Novosti, R-sport, closed today ©Ria NovostiApril 28 - Plans to shut down Russian news agency Ria Novosti have stepped up a level after dedicated English language arm R-Sport closed today after fulfilling its mandate to cover the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

R-Sport began operations on June 1, 2012, to cover sports from across the former Soviet Union with a focus on building up to and covering Sochi 2014.

In that period an overall total of 10,000 stories were produced.

But the website, praised for its extensive and balanced coverage of Sochi 2014, was always due to shut down following the Games.

This marks the latest step in the gradual phasing out of RIA Novosti, the official host agency of Sochi 2014, surprisingly announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last December, after over 70 years of operation since the service was set up in 1941 two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. 

In its place, the Government is creating an agency known as Rossia Segodnya, or Russia Today, modeled on the English-language television network.

R-Sport was set up specifically to cover the Olympic and Paralympic Games earlier this year ©AFP/Getty ImagesR-Sport was set up specifically to cover Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

At peak times, such as during London 2012 and the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, over 50 stories a day were published on R-Sport.

Among the most popular were reports on the horrific injury sustained by Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova at Sochi 2014, as well as stories on other winter sports particularly including ice hockey.

But the wider sporting world was also covered and, as a parting shot, the agency last Monday (April 21) published an interview with Russian national football team manager Fabio Capello in which the Italian announced plans to retire after the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

"It's been a privilege to guide R-Sport through the Sochi Games," said chief editor David Nowak, who arrived at RIA Novosti after four years at the Associated Press in Moscow.

"The experience has been at various times enjoyable, challenging, exciting and exhausting, but always interesting.

"I don't expect interest in Russian sport to wane one iota.

"There's Formula One in Sochi and the 2018 World Cup on the horizon, so there's every reason to keep Russian sports on your radar."