Mikhail Zygar

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Mikhail Viktorovich Zygar
Michail Zygar 01.jpg
Mikhail Zygar in 2018
Born (1981-01-31) 31 January 1981 (age 37)
Moscow, Russia
Known for Dozhd
Notable work All the Kremlin's Men

Mikhail Viktorovich Zygar (Russian: Михаил Викторович Зыгарь; born 31 January 1981) is a Russian journalist, writer and filmmaker, and the founding editor-in-chief of the only Russian independent news TV-channel, Dozhd (2010–2015). Under Zygar's leadership, Dozhd provided an alternative to Kremlin-controlled federal TV channels by focusing on news content and giving a platform to opposition voices. The channel's coverage of politically sensitive issues, like the Moscow street protests in 2011 and 2012 as well as the conflict in Ukraine, has been dramatically different from the official coverage by Russia's national television stations.[1] Zygar is also the author of the book All the Kremlin's Men, the history of Putin's Russia, based on interviews with Russian politicians from Putin's inner circle. The book has become an outstanding best-seller in Russia.

Biography

Zygar was born in Moscow, 31 January 1981. He became known as a war correspondent of Kommersant, the most influential Russian newspaper, covering wars in Iraq and Lebanon, genocide in Darfur, and revolution in Kyrgyzstan. In May 2005 Zygar was the only international journalist to report from Uzbekistan's Andijan (Andijan Massacre). After that he investigated Russian arms supplies to Uzbekistan. In August, 2005 he was brutally beaten by unknown men in Moscow, supposedly Uzbek security agents.

In 2009 and 2010 he worked as political editor and deputy editor-in-chief of Russian Newsweek.[2]

In 2010 Zygar became the first (founding) editor in chief of Dozhd, the first independent TV-channel in Russia in 10 years.[3] Dozhd rose to prominence in 2011 with its coverage of the mass protests against Vladimir Putin.[4] Zygar organised live coverage of all the protest rallies, which were largely ignored by state-owned television. Vice News called Zygar and his team 'the last journalists in Russia'[5].

In 2012 - 2014 Zygar was among the group of 'leading Russian journalists' who had annual interviews with President of Russia (then Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev. According to AP reporter 'Mikhail Zygar's questions were sharper than those of the others[6]'.

In 2014 Dozhd became a target of politically motivated attacks.[7] Its troubles began when the channel was aggressively covering the daily anti-government protests in Ukraine, which state-owned television dismissed as a neo-Nazi coup. In that year nearly all cable networks dropped Dozhd[8] and since then the channel has been largely ignored. The channel cut its expenses in half, shed about 30 percent of its staff and reduced its monthly budget before being hit with an eviction notice. Simultaneously Dozhd raised about $1 million in a crowd-funding campaign in March, proving that the demand for independent media in Russia is still there. The TV-channel started broadcasting from an ordinary flat in Moscow.[9]

In December 2015 Zygar announced he would be leaving the post of chief editor.[10] He told «Kommersant» that he intends to engage in his own multimedia project «1917. Free History». «I’m five and a half years running the channel, every Executive needs to expire once a period, that’s right, I gotta do something,» added Zygar.[11] But according to other independent media Zygar's resignation could be caused by political pressure. Chief editor of «Echo of Moscow» radio Alexei Venediktov claimed that some high-ranking statesmen including Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev were infuriated by the book and they demanded Dozhd's owner Natalia Sindeeva to get rid of Zygar.[12]

Awards

In 2014 CPJ announced that Mikhail Zygar was to receive the International Press Freedom Award.[13] He was the seventh Russian to be honored (after Tatyana Mitkova in 1991, Evgeny Kiselyov in 1995,Yelena Masyuk in 1997, Musa Muradov in 2003, Dmitry Muratov in 2007 and Nadira Isayeva in 2010).[14]

Books

'War in Myth' (2007). Collection of Zygar's essays about his work in hotspots like Iraq, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.

Gazprom. New Russian Weapon (2008), together with Valery Panyushkin. Investigation of the most mighty Russian state-owned-corporation.

'All the Kremlin's Men[15]' (2015). The book became the most important Russian non-fiction about the metamorphoses of Putin and his inner circle. The book was the #1 bestseller in Russia for 4 months. In it Mikhail Zygar traces Vladimir Putin's ascent to become the most powerful Russian president in decades, and illustrates the grip that extreme paranoia has on Moscow's power elite.[16] It took Zygar seven years to write, interviewing current and former associates of the Russian president. In his book, Zygar battles against the idealization of Putin as a savvy and ingenious puppet-master; both the demonic version put forth by the West, and the idolizing version propagated by Russia's official state media. Zygar is far from adapting the insulted tone of the Russian establishment in his assessment. He is more interested in tracing Russian leadership's slide into the aggressive world view that has eventually led to the war in Eastern Ukraine and military intervention in Syria.[17]

The book became a huge event in Ukraine. It revealed that annexation of Crimea was planned by the Kremlin in December, 2013.[18]

Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich praised the book saying that "This is the first consistent description of everything that has happened over the last 20 years that I have read. It is a very serious study and an opportunity to learn from first hand reports".[19] John Kampfner of The Guardian called the book "one of the most compelling"[20] accounts written about Vladimir Putin. The Sydney Morning Herald reviewed the book as a "fascinating, in-depth and authoritative study of Russian politics".[21] The book was also published in Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary. 'All the Kremlin's Men' was published in English in 2016.[22]

Zygar's next book, 'The Empire Must Die', was released both in Russian and in English[23] on the centenary of the Russian revolution. It’s a captivating story about the Russian society a hundred years ago, in the years leading up to the revolution, and the intertwined fates of Tolstoy, Diaghilev, Rasputin, Stolypin and other protagonists of the era. The way the story is told allows readers to recognize today's realities in almost every character or event: the century-old country looks like a reflection of modern Russia. Emily Tamkin of "Foreign policy" described the book as "an immensely compelling work that transports the reader to the streets of St. Petersburg to see the early 20th century unfold for herself".[24] The Empire Must Die is listed among the Best Non-Fiction works of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews, characterised as a "a vivid, character-driven reconstruction of the period leading up to the overthrow of the Romanovs"[25].

Future History

In 2016, Mikhail Zygar founded the creative studio Future History specialising in educational digital ventures. In November 2016, the studio launched its first digital project “1917. Free history" that used diary entries, memoirs, letters, pictures etc. of the contemporaries of the Russian Revolution to let Internet users follow their daily events live.[26] The project was supported by Yandex, Sberbank and the Russian social network VKontakte. The project ran until January 18, 2018, the day of the dissolution of the Russian Constituent Assembly.

An English-language version of the website was launched in February 2017.[27]

In 2018, Mikhail Zygar's Future History studio launched its next digital venture: 1968.digital, a web documentary series with vertical episodes that "show the life of real historical personalities through the screens of their would-be smartphones"[28]. The series covers the events of 1968 all over the world and is distributed in English on BuzzFeed News[29], in Russian and in French on the website of the Libération newspaper.

Mikhail Zygar participated in the 2018 TED conference in Vancouver talking about his historical digital ventures and the storytelling techniques he uses in his work[30].

Films

  • To Bury Stalin (2013)
  • Who's the Power (2013)
  • Past and Duma (2013). Dramatic mini-series about history of Russian Parliament

References

  1. ^ "Mikhail Zygar, Russia - Awards - Committee to Protect Journalists". cpj.org. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  2. ^ "Mikhail Zygar". Journalism Festival. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  3. ^ "Mikhail Zygar author of 'All the Kremlin's Men' in conversation with Dr Sam Greene". Pushkin House. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  4. ^ "Russia Cracks Down On Independent Media". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  5. ^ "The Last Journalists in Russia | VICE News". VICE News. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  6. ^ "Russia Cracks Down On Independent Media". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  7. ^ Liberty, Radio Free Europe/Radio. "Russia's Dozhd TV Under Pressure". www.ecoi.net (in German). Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  8. ^ Harding, Luke; agencies (2014-02-04). "Russian news channel TV Rain may close after main carrier pulls plug". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  9. ^ "Russian indie TV facing wrath of Kremlin". The Japan Times Online. 2014-12-22. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  10. ^ "Cluster bomb". The Economist. 2016-09-17. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  11. ^ "Chief editor of "Rain" is leaving the post". en.news-4-u.ru. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  12. ^ "Chief editor of "Rain" is leaving the post". en.news-4-u.ru. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  13. ^ "Mikhail Zygar, Russia - Awards - Committee to Protect Journalists". cpj.org. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  14. ^ "Putin Is Losing the Battle to Restrain Online Media". Newsweek. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  15. ^ Zygar, Mikhail (2016-09-06). All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin. S.l.: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610397391.
  16. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "The metamorphosis of Vladimir Putin | Europe | DW.COM | 06.10.2015". DW.COM. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  17. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "The metamorphosis of Vladimir Putin | Europe | DW.COM | 06.10.2015". DW.COM. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  18. ^ "Russian journalist: Kremlin's plan on Crimea's annexation born in 2013". www.unian.info. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  19. ^ "literary agency galina dursthoff". www.dursthoff.de. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  20. ^ Kampfner, John (2016-10-03). "All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  21. ^ Carroll, Steven (2017-01-30). "All the Kremlin's Men review: Mikhail Zygar on the powerbrokers behind Putin". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  22. ^ Archipelago, World. "All the Kremlin's Men". www.publicaffairsbooks.com. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  23. ^ Archipelago, World. "The Empire Must Die". www.publicaffairsbooks.com. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  24. ^ "Apocalypse, Soon: New Books on War, Plague, Famine, Demagogues, and the End of the World as They Knew It". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  25. ^ THE EMPIRE MUST DIE by Mikhail Zygar | Kirkus Reviews.
  26. ^ "A Russian social-media site is reliving 1917". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  27. ^ "Project1917". project1917.com. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  28. ^ Shamporova, Yulia (2018-05-21). "1968.Digital: How the world's first smartphone-only documentary show was created". Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  29. ^ "New BuzzFeed Series Uses Social Media To Retell American History". Fast Company. 2018-04-20. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  30. ^ Zygar, Mikhail, What the Russian Revolution would have looked like on social media, retrieved 2018-08-27

External links

  • Mikhail Zygar, Russia. 2014 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee
  • Mikhail Zygar at TED
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