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Russians laud Tucker Carlson's 'no agenda' interview with Putin

Mother of Putin critic searching for his body after morgue 'closed': Alexei Navalny
Published Time: 09.02.2024 - 16:40:27 Modified Time: 09.02.2024 - 16:40:27

Russian state media pleased with president’s historical rambling as American news anchor scrambles to defend digressions GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/AFP A viral sensation that hits the West where it hurts

Russian state media pleased with president’s historical rambling as American news anchor scrambles to defend digressions

: GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/AFP

A viral sensation that hits the West where it hurts. That’s how Russian state media were on Friday portraying Tucker Carlson’s two-hour interview with Vladimir Putin, running dozens of stories with barely contained glee about the unexpected propaganda coup.

As the first interview the Russian president has given to foreign media since the 2022 Ukraine invasion, it could have been an opportunity for Right-wing American TV personality Carlson to ask Putin some tough questions.

Instead, the result was an unedited series of monologues by the president going all the way back to the 8th century, large chunks of which will be barely intelligible to a viewer unfamiliar with the Russian leader’s penchant for lengthy history digressions.

Yet Russian state media are rapturously counting the number of likes, views and web hits the footage is getting.

Along with the usual blow-by-blow news pieces on specific issues in the interview, typically moderate state-owned news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti on Friday morning ran dozens of news stories about how the Putin interview was received abroad.

RIA Novosti sent three updates in the morning to the piece counting the number of views on X, formerly Twitter, where the interview was released. X, along with Facebook and Instagram, is banned in Russia.

Tass ran stories citing obscure talking heads from Australia, Germany, China and beyond, lauding the interview as a “breakthrough”, a “roadmap to improve relations with the US” and “hitting the West where it hurts”.

Sergei Markov, a former member of parliament known for his pro-Kremlin world view, on Friday praised Carlson, a former Fox news host, for allowing Western viewers to see an “uncensored” Putin.

“For the first time a Putin interview has been released as it iswith no editing by the enemy,” Mr Markov wrote on his Telegram channel.

“Hundreds of millions of Americans and Europeans can finally hear Putin without a contamination of lies from their media.”

A columnist on the website of the RIA Novosti news agency in an op-ed titled “Weapon of Mass Education” also praised its format for its “dagger of a strike through the veil of the propaganda of the lying media that have been working for two years to portray the conflict in Ukraine as a caricature”.

Russian independent media in exile largely lamented the interview as a missed opportunity to grill Mr Putin on the atrocities in Ukraine and crackdown at home.

“Tucker Carlson promised to ask Putin uncomfortable questionsin the end he made no mention of Bucha, Mariupol or Navalny,” the Meduza website said, referring to the two Ukrainian sites of war massacre and the Russian jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“Instead, Putin had a field day talking through the same things he always does.”

Speaking for the first time since the release of the footage, Carlson on Friday defended the long-winded and wandering interview, admitting that Putin “didn’t lay out his case very coherently”.

“Putin has not done an interview in almost four years,” he said in a video posted on social media. “He’s not good at explaining himself, he’s smart, no question about that, but he’s clearly spending a lot of time in a world where he doesn’t have to explain himself.”

Carlson also insisted that Putin was telling the truth when he said he didn’t want to invade any other European countries.”Russia’s not an expansionist powersorry, you’re not supposed to say that because all the liars and ideologues that run the State department want to make him into this Hitler, imperial Japanbut the truth is that’s just false.

“Russia’s too big already, the biggest land mass in the world, they only have 150 million people. They’ve got more than enough natural resources, they don’t have enough people in their view,” he added.

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