Working in Russia has always been tricky for U.S. journalists, regardless of the political climate.
The Washington Post’s Moscow bureau chief, David Filipov, and correspondent Andrew Roth shared their thoughts on the daily pressures of reporting in Moscow and beyond in an Ask Me Anything question and answer forum on Reddit. Filipov first traveled to Russia in 1983 and was previously the Boston Globe correspondent in the Soviet Union, Afghanistan and Iraq. Roth, who has lived in Russia for the past six years, has covered the revolution and war in east Ukraine and the anti-Putin protests in 2012. Both live and work in Moscow.
National security editor Peter Finn is a former Moscow bureau chief, and was also based in Warsaw and Berlin. He shared his thoughts on how Russians are viewing the current controversies involving their country and President Trump.
Here are their answers:
1. How much longer can [Russian President Vladimir Putin] reasonably hold power?
2. Were you ever pressured by the Russian government to either publish or not publish something?
I've had threats of having access denied or visa problems based on the tone of my reporting, but never something that has become a problem. In August 2014, I was stopped at an overland border crossing from Ukraine into Russia and had my bags searched by several border guards. During the search, the guards said that the circumstances of my crossing from Ukraine into Russia were suspicious, and suggested my accreditation could be revoked as a result. In a separate incident in 2016, a Ministry of Defense official told me by telephone that my ability to participate in press tours would depend on the tone of my reporting. That is to say that certain government employees in isolated incidents made such threats, but I don't see this as the policy of the Russian government, and I’ve never felt in danger from the government for anything that I’ve written. - Andrew.
The response to question 2 has been updated to reflect that these were isolated threats from individuals overstepping their bounds, and not official Russian government policy.
3. How reliable are anonymous sources?
4. Are there big differences in political views in Russia's rural and urban areas? What is the Russia media reporting on? Do you suspect you're being monitored?
5. What are some generalizations of how the Russian people view the American people?
7. How do I convince my conservative mom that Russian collusion is a big problem?
I think there are a couple of issues here that need to be separated out. The U.S. intelligence community and lawmakers from both parties are convinced that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to disrupt the U.S. system, damage Clinton and help Trump. But that doesn't account for Trump's victory which was the result of many factors, most of them domestic, which I don't think we need to list here. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that interference has to be investigated and addressed. Possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is as yet unproven but is being examined by a special counsel and the intelligence committees in the Senate and House as part of the wider probes of interference. The Donald Jr. email chain suggests, at the least, a willingness to consider colluding, but there is still a lot we need to learn. Finally, there is the president's propensity to conflate interference and collusion to dismiss everything as fake news, while not been forthright or offering misleading information about what did happen, all of which adds more to the suspicion of collusion, rather than abating it. (We could talk about this all day.) - Peter
9. Are you reporting from provinces? If yes, how people and authorities react?
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