Apparently, Russia’s main English language TV channel is headed by Armenian. Born in Russia, “100% Armenian” Margarita Simonyan is the editor-in-chief of Russia Today. She is only 26, and as claimed by Passport magazine, “in the world today, she is the youngest head of a global news and entertainment TV channel.” Below is extract of more Armenia related questions. Full interview is available here.
As the Editor-in-Chief do you see yourself as being somehow part of what we are calling the face of Russia Today?
I am not the face of Russia today as a channel; we have many handsome and beautiful presenters who can claim to be the face of the channel. I feel myself a part of my country but no, the channel is not about me.
Do you then see yourself as being only one part of a large team?
Yes. We are all in the same boat, Russians and foreigners. I am proud of my team, I trust them; they are all dedicated people who are ‘into’ this channel, who know ‘what the story is about.’ There are no ‘accidental people’ here, as we call them in Russia. It doesn’t matter if they are Russians or foreigners.
My parentage is 100% Armenian, although my parents themselves were brought up in Russia. I too was born and brought up in Russia. My motherland is Russia, no matter that I have not one drop of Russian blood.
How would you present on Russia Today, say, a conflict that might arise between Armenia and Russia which might affect you on a personal level?
I have only been to Armenia once, on an official delegation accompanying President Putin.
What you see is dependent upon where you stand. A sophisticated Cambridge-educated Englishman will see Russia but won’t feel her. But if you were born and brought up in a distant provincial region, and felt with all your inner being the ‘90s in Russia, the end of the USSR, you would feel your country in a different way. When you have experienced a country’s history like that, you understand.
Can I ask you please more about your upbringing. You were born in Krasnodar and educated there. In the 10th Class you went on an exchange programme to the US; how was that visit important for you?
It was 1995 to 1996. I was fifteen, the age when your views on life are being formed. When I was in the US I came to better appreciate life in Russia. At the same time I got into American habits and beliefs, large and small. Small beliefs can be important, for thinking about other people. I will give you an example; when I am driving in Moscow and I see that people are trying to cross the road, I stop; that is not a very Russian characteristic. About beliefs, you have to start with yourself. If you want to fight corruption, then you have to stop the cheating in the classroom.
Would you say that you have a Western work ethic?
In Russia Today there are things that we do in a Russian way, and others which can be called ‘Western.’ You received your higher education at Kuban State University, and then at the Television School of Vladimir Pozner. Pozner is perhaps the most famous example of a Russian media personality who is equally at home in both Russia and the West. Do you see yourself in that same way, I mean, as someone who understands and is comfortable in both those ‘worlds’?
I am comfortable in both of them, yes; understand the West just as well as I understand Russia, no. I don’t think that one can say that one fully understands a foreign country, the West. I won’t claim that I understand any other country as well as I know Russia.
*photo - via Passport magazine