Russian journalist fired by US state-run media RFE/RL for discussing conspiracies about Navalny's family makes groveling apology
Has he thought twice about offending the gatekeepers? A Russian journalist apologized to Alexey Navalny's wife after his sacking by US state-run media threatened to make him a pariah among Moscow's liberal opposition community.
Last week Timur Olevsky was sacked by RFE/RL cutout Current Time TV, after talking publicly about a conspiracy theory suggesting that Yulia Navalnaya's father was a member of the Russian secret services. The journalist had previously spoken about the topic in private to Oleg Kashin, a controversial columnist, who later blew his cover on YouTube.
“Yulia, I apologize to you for becoming an unintentional participant in the campaign against your family and giving birth to an opportunity for rumors and speculation,” Olevsky wrote on his Facebook page. “My non-public interest in your family has been dictated by a journalistic instinct.”
The journalist also apologized to all those he “truly respects and loves,” noting that his “private reflections” were used to attack Navalnaya. Many observers have suggested that his chances of finding alternative work in Moscow's liberal media would have been damaged by being perceived as an enemy of Navalny.
In his post, Olevsky drew attention to his previous journalistic endeavors in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, noting that he “never lied” in his work. He also publicly denounced Evgeny Prigozhin, the head of Patriot Media Holdings’ board of trustees, after he offered him a job. Prigozhin was accused by the US' Mueller investigation of being the brains behind an “internet troll factory” known as the Internet Research Agency.
Olevsky's Facebook apology garnered a lot of attention among the Moscow opposition community, receiving over 500 comments in just 15 hours. The responses ranged from insistences that Olevsky need not apologize, to finger-pointing at Kashin and even attacks on Navalny.
“Thank you, dear,” one popular comment said. “I know how difficult it is to write such texts, especially when you know that you are not guilty of anything, but that you are doing your job as you are used to doing it.”
“It's a pity that the liberal Moscow journalists devoured you, and you have to apologize,” another user wrote. “[The Navalny family] will continue to answer about themselves if they remain in the political arena.”
Other comments noted that Olevsky had come across as groveling, with sports journalist Alexander Lyutnikov noting that “the biggest fear of a journalist in Russia” is not being liked by Navalny.
“Aren't you ashamed of yourself now, Olevsky? Why are you apologizing to them?” He wrote.Also on rt.com Leading Russian liberal journalist fired by US state-controlled media RFE/RL for discussing family of Alexey Navalny’s wife
Another comment, from user Svetlana Istomina, questioned why there is any need to say sorry if Navalny isn't open about his private life.
“If Navalny claims to be the leader of the country, then he and his family should be transparent to society. We don't need a second Putin,” she wrote.
On her Telegram channel, Russian liberal community staple Kseniya Sobchak responded to the apology by criticizing Current Time, calling Olevsky a “noble man.”
“And those old ex-CIA officers who rule Real Time and Radio Liberty are not [noble men],” she wrote. “Because not only are they firing their most famous journalist for criticizing Navalny, they are throwing a bone to the dumbest propaganda.”
Although, perhaps, the most inflammatory response came from Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian TV show host often accused of being a propagandist by opposition figures.
“Timur Olevsky now publicly repents, apologizes to the family of the ‘opposition Fuhrer,’” Solovyov wrote, on Twitter. “They are completely crazy. It reminds me of 1937.”
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