Chicken: Russian Central Election Committee chair asks for a friendlier journalist to interview him on the air

Vladimir Churov, courtesy of, I was supposed to go on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to participate in a show called “Face to Face,” in which one Russian and one foreign journalist interview a local bigwig.

Because some key regional elections were last weekend and because I wrote a story about them for Foreign Policy, I was invited to be the foreign journalist (alongside Victor Hamraev from the Russian daily Kommersant) who would interview Vladimir Churov, head of the Russian Central Elections Committee.

This morning, I got a text from the show’s producer. “Julia, unfortunately, everything’s changed,” he wrote. “Churov, it turns out, knows you well from your publications and really doesn’t like you.” Apparently, Churov’s PR lady called RFE/RL and, with Churov audibly grumbling in the background, chewed out the show’s producer on my behalf because I had written “nasty things about Putin.”

The producer, to his credit, refused to replace me with someone friendlier and instead canceled the show.

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