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Russia Today Journalist Resigns over Malaysia Flight MH17 Coverage

Russia Today Journalist Resigns over Malaysia Flight MH17 Coverage

Russia Today reporter Sara Firth quit Thursday because of the network’s coverage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster. She is the second RT reporter to leave since the crisis started in Ukraine in November 2013.

“When this story broke I ran back into the newsroom and saw how we were covering it already and I just knew I had to go,” she told Buzzfeed. “It was the total disregard to the facts. We threw up eyewitness accounts from someone on the ground openly accusing the Ukrainian government [of involvement in the disaster], and a correspondent in the studio pulled up a plane crash before that the Ukrainian government had been involved in and said it was ‘worth mentioning.'”

She said the network assigned important stories to inexperienced journalists because they would not stray away from the message.

“The second you start to question or report honestly then you’re a problem,” she said.

Firth claims she never lied in her reports, but the bosses interfered when she was in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the Assad regime, and she reported a story about the civilians who oppose Assad.

“I couldn’t do it any more. Every single day we’re lying and finding sexier ways to do it,” she said.

Anchor Liz Wahl resigned on air on March 5 in protest of RT’s coverage of Russian action in Crimea. The Kremlin annexed the Black Sea peninsula on March 20 after a questionable referendum.

“RT is not about the truth,” she said. “It’s about promoting a Putinist agenda. It’s also about bashing America.”

Russia clamped down even more on press freedom in the beginning of March. The Kremlin sent a letter to Lenta.ru and demanded an interview with a Right Sector leader not be published. The news site published it, and editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but the majority of people believe she was forced out. Editors and writers quit the following day in protest and said censorship is getting worse every year:

Over the past couple of years the space of free journalism in Russia has decreased dramatically. Some publications are controlled directly from the Kremlin, others through curators and others editors who fear losing their jobs. Some media outlets were closed, others will close in the coming months. The problem is not that we have nowhere to run. The trouble is that you seem to have nothing more to read.

We certainly expected that they would come and for us.

Kommersant‘s Anastasia Karimova resigned because of censorship issues from Moscow and said there is no acceptable work for journalists in Russia.

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