She is the unofficial representative of the Kremlin in the world of international media: Margarita Simonyan runs RT (Russia Today), a wholly satellite news channel, and Russia’s Sejodnya News Agency, both created and funded by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Born in Krasnodar, in the southern part of the country, to an Armenian family that fled Ottoman persecution, Rt grew a little each time, adding to the service in English, which is broadcast all over the world, even in Arabic and French, Spanish is German. Controversy also grew with the role: RT has often been accused of being an important component of the Russian propaganda machine, thanks to an editorial line that includes heavy doses of conspiracy and the ever-devaluing of liberal democracies. Aides to Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned dissident, demanded that she be punished by the West for her role in suppressing the protest movement. His words are a good measure of the opinion of the Moscow ruling class.
Fifteen years ago I founded RT as a director. He was only 25 years old at the time, what are your goals and what are your goals today?
“At that time, we just wanted an accurate picture of the Russian reality to be available in the world, for Russia’s voice to be finally heard and that other countries and their media no longer define who we are and what, as happened generations ago. With the passage of time we discovered that there is a great demand in the world that is not. “Only from a Russian perspective, but on alternative voices, stories and visions. Since then, our goal has been to be the leading platform for this alternative with regard to what is happening in the world.”
What makes you proud during these fifteen years?
“I am proud that RT has become a critical alternative to the mainstream media in the West, and a platform for stories and opinions that others ignore. From Larry King, who recently passed away, to Julian Assange and Raphael Correa, RT is the channel where it was possible to speak freely, even About the uncomfortable facts ».
But during this period, relations between the West and Russia deteriorated. There is talk of a new Cold War.
The old Cold War never ended because the attitude towards Russia, and the fact of seeing it as an adversary, never changed. And no serious effort was made to really understand it. For several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was seen in the West as the country that lost the international confrontation and was thus too weak to be taken into consideration or respect. Once it became stronger economically, socially or geopolitically, as soon as the Western establishment was no longer able to control it and control it, Russia became the enemy again. ”
But there are things that are impossible to understand in the West, such as the Russian position on the Navalny case. He was poisoned and the Moscow authorities did not even open an investigation. A former FSB (KGB) officer admitted in a phone conversation that he was involved in the poisoning and nothing happened. Navalny returned to Russia and was arrested even though the European Court of Human Rights said his sentence violated the rule of law. How do you explain that?
“Whenever Moscow has made efforts to investigate the accident, when it requested access to the evidence apparently gathered by the German authorities or suggested cooperation in this regard, its requests were rejected. But let’s try to assess the incident in general. Do you really think that the Russian state wanted so badly to eradicate it. Someone so much that she sent a team of 8 highly trained security officers; they chased him down for 3 years and then let some kind of poison slip on him, only until the same Russian state doctors took hours to save his life and finally let him fly away on a German plane, with international borders Closed to the epidemic? It’s a silly scenario, I don’t understand how anyone can believe that. “
Do you agree with the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, when she says that the Navalny movement members are NATO agents?
“For me, it is clear that Navalny is a resource for the West, if it is specifically for NATO, or for the United States or Germany, I won’t know. And I have this belief, not only and not because of Navalny’s behavior so much, but because of the behavior of these countries, and how their politicians, their security services and their media deal and talk about it, and how they did it for him. 10 years now ».
Navalny’s movement demanded that you submit to EU and US sanctions for your effective contribution to suppressing dissent. What is the effect on her?
“I consider it a badge of honor. Every Russian patriot will respond in the same way.”
In the past, there was also a one-year residency in the United States as a student. What memory do you have from that period?
“The most beautiful thing I spent with my American family, who welcomed me as if I had been home from day one. I will always be fond of the little moments I spent with my American mom and dad. She died of cancer last year, but the memory will be with me forever. “