The editor-in-chief of a top state-run media outlet in Russia has quit her position in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, now warning the world is on the brink of a nuclear confrontation.
Maria Baronova, the now-former head of Russia Today, known to most simply as “RT,” said during a recent interview with Fox News she thinks the world is “on the brink of a nuclear war right now,” adding, “I’m not exaggerating.”
“I have a son,” she told the outlet. “I can’t leave, because his father won’t allow me to leave with him, and so I just prefer to stay in Moscow. … It seems like we’re either in North Korea or we are going to be killed by a thermonuclear mushroom. I wouldn’t quit, and I wouldn’t lose my salary and job if I was sure that we are going to be alive for many years, but I really don’t know what is going to happen to all of us next.”
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Baranova said she finally made the decision to quit RT after reading a social media post from a colleague, who wrote: “If you are now ashamed of being Russian, don’t worry, you are not Russian.”
The former media executive told Fox News she was “really disturbed by that tone and level of support.”
“If I chose to be with Russia, this does not mean that I should walk in a totalitarian system, be silent or, for example, rejoice that the regime, which I do not want for my country, is being exported somewhere else,” she said. “And this regime will finally turn our life into one endless hell. What’s there. Already turned.”
She further condemned Putin’s regime for “bombing our relatives, our friends” in Ukraine.
Baranova — a longtime member of the opposition movement against Putin — said she is amazed by the number of Russians who have bought into the government’s lie that they are fighting Nazis in Ukraine.
“I try to talk with people on the streets… they even had arguments like, ‘We are fighting with Hitler,’ but look, I’ve got some news,” she said. “Hitler died 80 years ago. It seems like they’re really brainwashed.”
In the internet age, the journalist said she’s struggled to understand why people don’t question Putin.
“We have internet like everybody else in this world, and you can’t hide information from people in the era of the internet, so I don’t understand how they can be brainwashed,” she reasoned. “How can they be saying that Russia is fighting with Hitler collaborators in Ukraine when Hitler died 80 years ago? But they really have these kinds of conversations.”
It was reported last week, though, that Putin blocked Russians’ access to Twitter and Facebook.
The one thing that does seem to be getting Russian citizens’ attention, Baranova said, is sanctions.
“People were in favor on [the] first day of invasion,” she explained. “Now they are less convinced and much more skeptical because they understand now that they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to lose their cars, their iPhones, their everything. So, let’s see what that are going to say in a month. … The whole world is in a bad position.”
In Russia these days, Baranova said it feels like 1939, at the start of World War II.
“It is really pointless to predict anything,” she said. “We are watching a lie on my TV.”
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