The world has taken notice of American journalist Rachel Scott, after she bluntly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin some hard-hitting questions about the treatment of his political opponents in Russia.
“The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long,” Scott told Putin.
“Alexey Navalny’s organization calls for free and fair elections, an end to corruption, but Russia has outlawed that organization, calling it extremist. And you now have prevented anyone who supports him to run for office.
“So, my question is, Mr. President, what are you so afraid of?”
Putin, seemingly on the backfoot, didn’t respond to the question directly, instead labelling Navalny’s organisation as “extremist” in nature and saying he felt sympathy for the US in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
“We feel sympathy for the United States, but we don’t want that to happen on our territory, and we’re doing our utmost in order to not allow it to happen,” he said.
Scott went back to Putin, telling the President, “You didn’t answer my question, sir.”
“If all your political opponents are dead, in prison, poisoned — doesn’t that send a message that you don’t want a fair political fight?” Scott said.
Again, Putin deflected and didn’t answer directly.
My question to Mr. Putin today: What are you so afraid of? https://t.co/RPge8AonUu— Rachel Scott (@rachelvscott) June 16, 2021
The exchange between Scott and Putin delighted social media, with other journalists noting how rare it is for Putin to be held to account by a journalist in the way that Scott did.
ABC’s @rachelvscott with the strong follow-up to Putin: “You didn’t answer my question, sir. If all of your political opponents are dead, in prison, or poisoned, doesn’t that send a message that you don’t want a fair political fight?” Putin deflects, doesn’t answer directly.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) June 16, 2021
Scott later told ABC News that her questioning had caught the attention of Russian journalists.
“But I can tell you, after leaving the press conference I was swarmed by a few Russian reporters. They wanted to know (if) I was satisfied by his answer. Clearly there was a lot of interest, and a lot of intrigue about the American presence in the room,” she said.
“Look, this is our job. Our job is to ask tough questions. We have a responsibility as journalists, no matter who the leader is or what country we are in,” she added.