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Kremlin-funded news anchor speaks out against Russia

Picture from Russia Today video

Abby Martin, an American presenter on the English-language Russia Today news channel, went spectacularly off message on Monday night when she criticised Russian intervention in Ukraine live on her show.


Martin ended her show 'Breaking the Set', which she anchors from Washington for an American audience, with a diatribe against “Russia’s military occupation of Crimea”.

“Just because I work here for RT doesn’t mean I don’t have editorial independence and I can’t stress enough how strongly I am against state’s intervention in a nation’s sovereign affairs. What Russia did was wrong,” she said.

Her bold statement contrasted with Russia Today’s coverage of the Ukrainian crisis so far. The Russian government-funded channel has broadly reflected Moscow’s position, describing the interim head of state elected by the Ukrainian parliament as “the self-imposed president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov”, and the militias that took control of strategic sites in Crimea with Russian military backing as “the Crimean popular army made up of locals and former Ukrainian armed forces brac[ing] for possible impact with right-wing radicals”.

A YouTube clip of Martin’s monologue attracted more than 300,000 viewers in less than 15 hours, as well as largely positive comments.

“First truthful comment in this whole mess. Very brave. Great job,” wrote Lukas Vogl.

Martin also received support on Twitter and on her Facebook page, where Tomasz Groń wrote from Poland: “The world needs people like you!”

Yet Martin's position also drew criticism from supporters of Russia’s intervention. “You are sooo brave… That you support indirectly the new Nazis in Ukraine,” wrote Fidel Faria on her Facebook page. Like other web users, he suggested that she moves to the conservative US channel Fox News.

Many others, such as Brandon Wright, expressed amazement at Martin’s departure from the official Russian line asking: “Will she be at work today?”

According to the "Huffington Post", she will. “We respect her views, and the views of all our journalists, presenters and program hosts, and there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin,” the website quotes Russia Today as saying.

“In her comment Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of (the) reality of the situation in Crimea. As such we’ll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicentre of the story,” Russia Today’s response to the incident was further quoted as saying.

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