Russia Today Reporter Quits Over MH17 Crash ‘Lies’

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MOSCOW, July 18 — A London-based reporter for Russia’s state-owned English-language channel RT quit today in protest at its coverage of the Malaysian Airlines crash in Ukraine.  Sara Firth is the second person since March to publicly resign from RT, formerly known as Russia Today, over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis. The Kremlin-funded channel bills itself as an alternative to a Western-biased coverage, and provides a staunchly pro-Kremlin version of events. “I resigned from RT today. I have huge respect for many in the team, but I’m for the truth,” Firth wrote on her Twitter account @Sara__Firth.

The announcement followed an outpour of other critical tweets from Firth denouncing the “lies” by RT, which had even led some of her followers to wonder whether her account had been hacked. Firth made the comments after one blogger accused her RT colleague Polly Boiko of “taking money to spread (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s lies” about the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which went down in rebel-held eastern Ukraine with 298 people aboard.

“What am I spreading?” Boiko shot back. “Lies hun,” Firth then stepped in. “We do work for Putin. We are asked on a daily basis if not to totally ignore then to obscure the truth.” “We’re taking a paycheck and for that we have to always obey,” she later added. Firth had also changed her Twitter handle from @SaraFirth_RT early today to disassociate her popular account from the channel. Her last report out of London, according to the RT website, dates from Tuesday.

RT has been accused of biased reporting, particularly since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis last year. In March a US-based presenter with RT, Liz Wahl, announced during a live broadcast that she was quitting over the channel’s “whitewashing” of Kremlin’s actions on the Crimean peninsula. RT described Wahl’s resignation as an act of self-promotion. — AFP