How to live and work American journalists in Russia in the era of trump

David Filipov (David Filipov), head of the Moscow Bureau of the Washington Post and correspondent of this newspaper Andrew Roth (Andrew Roth) shared their thoughts about the daily pressures faced by journalists in Moscow and abroad. And it all happened on a news site Reddit, the forum “questions or answers” (Anything question and answer). Filipov first arrived in Moscow as correspondent of the Boston Globe in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan and Iraq. As for Roth, he lives and works in Russia for the last six years, he covered the revolution and the war in the East of Ukraine and anti-Putin protests in 2012. They both live and work in Moscow.


Peter Finn (Peter Finn), editor on issues of national security, had previously headed the Moscow Bureau of the Washington Post, and worked in Warsaw and Berlin. He shares his thoughts about how Russians perceive current controversy related to their country and President of the trump.


Here are the questions and their answers:


— How long, if to assess the situation from a reasonable position, Russian President Vladimir Putin is able to maintain its power?


David: Putin, probably, will participate and win the presidential election in March next year and thus will receive the mandate for another six years. Apparently, the health he does not complain, however, there is of course no guarantee for people who have reached 70 years of age. But while there are no specific ideas about how will be the transfer of power. Putin is already in power for 17 years, and it was appointed by the previous President (Putin in over four years was Prime Minister, but it was clear that the true power in that period was in his hands). That’s a concern, regardless of how it will be transfer of power. Russia has moved so far from holding free and fair elections, they are unlikely to be precisely the way which will be chosen the next President.


— Have you ever been pressured by the Russian government in regard to the question to publish or not to publish any material?


Andrew: I was threatened with termination, or problems with the visa because of the tone of my publications, but it never became a problem. I never felt any physical threat from the Russian government because of my journalistic work. Russian love football and hockey. Many guys also love Mixed martial arts (MMA). If you understand this, the Russian will be Bros for life your friends.


— How reliable is an anonymous source?


Peter: That’s an objective test: whether to lose its significance of the article, based on anonymous sources, when more material becomes available? In my opinion, in this respect, our work on the trump — Russia is confirmed by new revelations, including recognition by the White house and others. Information from anonymous sources we are subjected to independent validation using data from other sources, and so we have two, three, or more evidence for those materials, which we intend to publish. We also provided subjects the opportunity to respond and convince us that we should reconsider my point of view. Ultimately, the reader must have a certain amount of confidence in track record and professionalism of that publication that uses anonymous sources. It is always better to give specific names of people, but sometimes this is impossible, including when discussing such topics that may lead to dismissal or prosecution, if they are named for.


— Are there differences in political views between rural and urban areas of Russia? As reported by Russian media? You have suspicions about the fact that you are being watched?


David: Thanks, that’s a great question. 1) of Course, people in big cities, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, have greater access to information from Internet news sites outside of Russia, and there is a high probability that they have visited abroad. So they have information they can associate with what’s shown on state television. Most people in rural areas or many of them receive all the information from the state TV reported. They can be compared to some Americans who watch only the programs of Sean Hannity (Sean Hannity), or just Rachel Maddow (Rachel Maddow). 2) Russian media, even those who are not fans of Putin, tend to believe that the American establishment was crazy that he makes mountains out of molehills and what it stands for fear of Russia. This is a big generalization, but overall, the idea transferred correctly. 3) We believe that we are listened to and our email is, of course, controlled.

— What are some General perceptions of Russian people about American people?


David: That’s a good question. Positive aspect: they believe that the Americans is not their government, Americans want to be friends, they’re such a big nation like Russia, they are friendly, they are successful people. However, over the past 25 years since the end of the cold war, the prevailing view is that America didn’t want Russia joined the West, she wanted to see the West destroyed Russia. We spent the whole day unable to say why it happened, but, in General, there is an idea that the Americans are talking about friendship, but at the same time trying to Rob you. There is a sense that the American establishment is deeply Russophobic (and, therefore, we, the staff of the Washington Post, is also so configured), and that this fear against Russia identifies any geopolitical moves. The investigation against trump only fuels of this kind of representation, and the same applies to the coverage on Russian television. We spoke several times on Russian television, and here was formulated the most important question I asked: Why America hates Russia. It’s sad.

— How do I convince my conservative minded mother that the Russian conspiracy is a big problem?


Peter: In my opinion, here are a couple of issues that should be separated from each other. The us intelligence community and legislators representing both parties, are convinced that Russia interfered in the elections of 2016 in order to undermine the American system, to damage Clinton, and Trump to help. However, this does not explain the victory of trump, which was the result of numerous factors, most of which are of an internal character, and I see no need to list them here. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that the fact of collusion of members of the electoral headquarters of the trump and Russia is not yet proven, but this question is studied by the special adviser, as well as in committees on intelligence in the Senate and in the House of representatives as part of a wider case for intervention. E-mail correspondence of Donald Jr., at least, indicate a desire to consider the possibility of joining the conspiracy, but we still have much to learn in this respect. And finally, from the President, there is a tendency to mix the question of interference and conspiracy in order to declare all of this “false news” when he himself is not behaving openly or provides misleading information about what actually happened, and that it only increases suspicions about collusion, not dispels them (we can talk about it all day).


— Tell you about what is happening in the province? If so, how does the audience react and power?


Andrew: Yeah, we do, although we have to spend in Moscow more time than we would like, and this is due to the flow of political news. Journalistic trip to Russia and other countries (Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, etc.) — it is a real pleasure for a foreign correspondent. During some trips I was truly successful, since he met with local residents and officials, who are far away from the capital, and there is a different mentality in large and small cities, and people are interested to understand who you are and what you do in Ulan-Ude. This kind of thing become much more complicated after the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2014, and the reason for this are full of the wrath of the materials of Russian television about the Western press. However, traveling is the best part of my job.