A live interview on RT’s 'In the Now' program took a turn for the unexpected on Tuesday when a senior executive from Ukraine Today used the appearance to troll the host instead of discussing the network's new media project.
RT political correspondent and 'In the Now' host Anissa Naouai planned to discuss Ukraine Today with the network’s executive producer, Tetiana Pushnova, but the segment lasted only moments before turning into a farce.
From RT’s Moscow headquarters, Naouai was preparing to play a clip from a recent Ukraine Today broadcast before asking Pushnova to explain more about the new station, which launched only last week and has been billed as “Ukraine's first international TV news network offering independent news, views and insights from Europe's largest country.”
“I just want to show our audience a little taste of your broadcast,” Naouai told viewers as soon as the interview was underway.
But before the clip could air, however, Pushnova quickly took the opportunity to make it clear that she didn’t actually intend on participating in the discussion.
“I don’t remember your name, miss, but you [are] also responsible for thousand[s], thousand[s] of death[s] in my country [sic],” Pushnova told Nauoai.
“And Russia Today, who [is] financed by Kremlin, lie about my country; lie about Ukrainians.”
“That’s why I don’t want to communicate with you,” Pushnova continued, but not before issuing what she said was a call to her international colleagues.
“Don’t cooperate with Russia Today,” the producer pleaded.
The interview abruptly ended less than a minute after it began, when Pushnova disappeared from camera and in her place appeared the words: "RUSSIA TODAY STOP LIE."
“I just want to take this time to point out that Russia Today tries very hard to get people to come on to give the other side of the story; to give different views,” Nauoai told her viewers after the interview was unexpectedly cut short. “We have a great difficulty in trying to get people with different views — not the Russian perspective.”
Right after the broadcast on Tuesday, Ukraine Today proudly announced on its Facebook page that Pushnova refused to contribute to Russia's "bloody propaganda" and that RT "pulled the plug" and "switched off the air immediately." However, the video attached to the post clearly shows that it was Pushnova who refused to continue speaking to the host, and not the other way around.
According to Nauoai, Pushnova agreed last week to partake in the RT interview and was even forwarded questions in advance about Ukraine Today concerning the network’s mission statement, intended audience, name, funding, and impartiality. Nevertheless, the segment lasted no longer than two minutes, without any answers, and ended with the host stating, “We’ve been trolled — live on air.”
On Ukraine Today’s official Facebook page, the network said Pushnova’s remarks were intended to compel RT to end what it calls an “information war against Ukraine” funded by the Kremlin in the wake of the protests that erupted earlier this year in Kiev and yielded the ousting of then-President Viktor Yanukovich.
“We saw the need for an independent picture for Ukraine and the neighborhood in the wintertime,” Pushnova told the Christian Science Monitor last month of her network’s genesis. “We really hope Europe will get an alternative channel of information about one of the biggest countries in Europe.”
“Note the similarity in the name of the propaganda channel Russia Today and our Ukraine Today. I think the idea with the name is brilliant,” Pushnova said previously in a statement announcing the network’s debut.
Tuesday’s segment certainly does not mark the first time that RT has been “trolled” live on air. Pushnova follows in the footsteps of Jamie Kirchick of the Foreign Policy Initiative, who used an appearance on RT last year intended to be about the sentencing of WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning to instead lambast the Russian legislation dubbed by the media as the "LGBT propaganda law."