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Margarita Simonyan

Margarita Simonyan became head of the Kremlin-funded news channel RT when she was just 25. Mark Coles charts her rise from humble beginnings to the top of Russian media elite.

As RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan runs a news network described by US intelligence as "the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet". Formerly known as Russia Today, RT risks being stripped of its UK broadcast licence in the wake of the Salisbury spy poisoning. So who is the woman at its helm?

Born into an Armenian family in Krasnodar in Southern Russia, Simonyan grew up in poverty, but her academic achievements helped her win a place on a prestigious exchange program to the United States. Arriving in New Hampshire just four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the experience changed her life. Initially shocked by the excesses of Western capitalism, Simonyan soon found her feet and was even crowned 'Carnival Queen' of her All-American high school.

After returning to Russia, Simonyan started a career in journalism, becoming a household name after reporting from the carnage of the Beslan school siege. Shortly after, when she was just 25, she was handpicked to create the new Kremlin-funded international news network Russia Today. Controversy has dogged the channel, with allegations of pro-Kremlin propaganda and biased reporting, but all agree that under Simonyan's leadership the channel has given Russia a far bigger - and stronger - voice abroad.

Married with two children, Simonyan is known by her friends for her love of disco, Cossack folk music and traditional cooking - including boiled beaver's head. Mark Coles asks some of those who know her best what drives her - including her best friend and the American woman who offered to adopt her as a teenager.

Presenter: Mark Coles
Producers: Beth Sagar-Fenton & Jordan Dunbar
Researcher: Sylvie Carlos.

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13 minutes

Last on

Sun 18 Mar 2018 17:40

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