Few days after asking a question to President Putin during the president’s annual press conference, Russian journalist Alisa Yarovskaya, has lost her job and the reason is unclear.
The latest report highlights the difficult role Russian journalists have in holding authorities to account.
What question did the journalist ask?
According to BBC, about three hours into President Putin’s annual press conference. a microphone was passed to journalists.
Alisa Yarovskaya took the microphone, although it was apparently meant for another Yamal-Region TV journalist selected by Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
She began by highlighting the advantages of global warming for her region as it meant that the Arctic sea route was melting. Local infrastructure, including rail, was being built, however construction of a bridge over the River Ob was stalling, she said. The bridge is meant to connect two local cities, Salekhard and Labytnangi.
“Our governor, Dmitry Artkyukhov, spares no effort in turning this into a reality,” said Yarovskaya. “And yet we hear this discussed less and less at a federal level. So the question is can we get the federal ‘heavy artillery’ involved?”
President Putin said cherry-picking one particular project was inappropriate for the federal government, but he said the Ob bridge was a “pivotal link” to the region’s transport infrastructure because opening up the Arctic ports was a crucial initiative that had to be synchronised with the growth of cargo shipping.
The government was aware of it and would pay attention to it, he added.
Days after the conference, Yarovskaya lost her job.
Why did she lose her job?
Authorities in the Yamal-Nenets district were unimpressed by the journalist’s intervention and the TV channel was not happy she took the microphone away from a colleague, BBC reported, quoting a report by Ura.ru website.
Pointing out that the local authority owned the TV channel she worked for, Ura.ru quoted one government source as saying the governor did not appreciate flattery and it had been agreed beforehand that a separate question on rail links would be posed instead.
Yarovskaya told several local media that she submitted her resignation rather than being fired but would not say whether it was linked to her question.
One report suggested the incident may instead have been linked to a Facebook post in which she allegedly speculated beneath a picture taken during the press conference about President Putin’s appearance.
“I can’t see botox or fillers. He looks his age,” she is said to have remarked. That comment cannot be verified as the post has since been deleted.
The president’s spokesman said on Tuesday that the reason for the journalist’s departure was not known – whether she had resigned or been dismissed, Izvestia website reported. However, dismissal was the job of a channel’s editors.