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11 Feb, 2024 14:00

Kremlin feared Carlson would face ‘persecution’

The West is becoming increasingly unpredictable and “could stoop to anything,” Dmitry Peskov has claimed
Kremlin feared Carlson would face ‘persecution’

Moscow was concerned that US journalist Tucker Carlson could face “persecution” even before his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has revealed.

In an interview released by journalist Pavel Zarubin on Sunday, Peskov noted that it was Carlson who asked Putin for a sit-down, adding that the president quickly agreed to the idea.

However, the spokesman admitted that “there was some concern that there would be some kind of persecution of poor Carlson even before the interview,” given that the West “is becoming increasingly unpredictable and could stoop to anything.”

He noted that the journalist is no stranger to this kind of pressure, saying Carlson is smart enough to know that “emotions would run high.” The interview, however, brought the reporter a lot of popularity, according to the spokesman.

Peskov also responded to critics who accused the journalist of not asking Putin tough questions. “Western viewers were lucky that Carlson did not escalate… If the questions had been extremely sharp, so would have been the answers. Some might not have liked that.”

The spokesman noted that Putin’s interview has generated a great deal of interest in the West despite US attempts to downplay its significance. Officials in Washington, he added, “don’t want Putin’s true worldview to be accessible to ordinary Americans… but this cannot be suppressed.”

Carlson released the interview with Putin on Thursday. He had previously stated that his duty is “to inform people,” especially when it comes to the Ukraine conflict, since many Americans have little knowledge about “a war they are implicated in.”

In the two-hour interview, which has garnered tens of millions of views, the Russian leader described in detail how modern Ukraine – which he called an “artificial state” – was established by the actions of the Soviet authorities. He also explained that the conflict between Moscow and Kiev is rooted in the Western-backed coup in 2014 and the Ukrainian government’s campaign to suppress the population of Donbass. The region, along with two other former Ukrainian territories, voted to join Russia in 2022.

The interview drew sharp criticism in the West. Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Carlson a “useful idiot” who parrots Putin’s narrative. Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who has been accused of derailing Ukraine peace talks early on in the conflict – called the reporter a “traitor to journalism.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called the US and Western reaction to the interview “hysteria” which “reveals the mendacity of their approach.”

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