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Press freedom: a foundation of modern democracy

For years, prominent Russian journalist Dmitry Skorobutov covered domestic and international affairs for the major TV channel “Russia 1”. Today, he is a political exile in Switzerland. We speak with him for the SWI “Global Voices of Freedom” series.

The fate of Dmitry Skorobutov is also the fate of #freedomofexpression in the Russian Federation. After becoming a more open and free society 30 years ago, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia’s position when it comes to modern representative democracy and the guaranteeing of basic human rights has since been steadily worsening.

For years, Dmitry Skorobutov was a cog in the wheel of the Russian state propaganda apparatus. However, after his misgivings grew into a profound internal conflict, he eventually had to leave the country. Today he is a political exile in Switzerland.

In our “Voices of Freedom” video series, Skorobutov describes his work as editor-in-chief of the news program “Vesti” on the state TV channel “Russia-1”. Of Russia’s 146 million people, some 10 to 15 million watch this program every night: “When the regime change happened in Ukraine we always used several different sources to verify the facts and ensure non-biased reporting”, says Skorobutov, who underlines that “press freedom is an indispensable foundation of modern democracy”.

Today, “Russia-1” is also under state control when it comes to journalistic content. As for Skorobutov, the 43-year-old now lives in a boarding house for refugees in Lausanne in Western Switzerland. At the end of the month he can barely affords to buy food. He has not yet managed to find friends in Switzerland, and he avoids his rich compatriots living in villas on the shores of Lake Geneva. 

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR