Steve Rosenberg, who has lived in Russia since 1991 and reported from there for the BBC for 27 years, told The Times why he believes he’s permitted to remain reporting from the country when other journalists have been expelled or their visas revoked.
Rosenberg speculated that the Kremlin sees allowing his, and the BBC’s, continued freedom is their way of indicating their indifference. He cited a recent interview with foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. “He came up with an incredible phrase, ‘Russia is what it is and we’re not ashamed to show it.’”
The journalist said he was used to being followed and that had not changed since the invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that “they can pull the plug any time.
“You’re always having to risk-assess the situation, and it all comes down to gut feeling now. I think there is still benefit from me being here and reporting on the situation. But, of course, I’m constantly assessing that.”
The recent near-coup in Russia has inspired its president Vladimir Putin to launch a charm offensive in his home nation, according to Rosenberg. He revealed he had seen a contrast to the isolated figure Putin posed before the attempted coup by the Wagner soldiers:
“He’s here, there and everywhere trying to show that he’s loved.”
Wagner soldiers, led by Yevgency Prigozhin, claimed to have came within 150 miles of Moscow, before a deal was struck with the Russian leadership. The details are inevitably scant, due to the partisan reporting that Rosenberg told the paper makes for complicated reporting from the country:
“Russia says it was the West that started the war against Russia, and that the West is fighting Russia in Ukraine. Russia will always present itself as the victim and not the aggressor.”
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