A Russian state journalist who asked President Vladimir Putin a question during his end-of-year press conference last week has been told to resign, the Znak.com news website reported Monday, sparking speculation about the causes for her dismissal.
At the press conference on Thursday, Alisa Yarovskaya, a Yamal-Region television channel correspondent, had asked Putin to help speed up construction of a bridge in her republic that would increase shipments to Russia’s Arctic.
Putin agreed that the bridge was an “important infrastructure project” but added that its construction could not be taken “out of the general context.”
Russian media have suggested that Yarovskaya’s question may be one of at least three possible reasons why she was subsequently told to resign.
Authorities in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, which owns the channel where Yarovskaya worked, did not take kindly to her characterization of the region’s governor in her question to Putin, the Ura.ru news website reported.
“The Yamal administration does not welcome personal flattery in relation to the governor,” Ura.ru quoted an unnamed official as saying.
At Thursday’s marathon conference, Yarovskaya had told Putin that Yamal-Nenets autonomous district Governor Dmitry Artyukhov was “doing everything possible” to complete construction of the bridge.
Yarovskaya’s question about the bridge, which is scheduled to be part of the Northern Latitudinal Passage project in Russia’s Arctic, appeared to differ from the question that she had been sent to ask by her media.
Yamal authorities had reportedly dispatched their reporters with a single authorized question on the prospects of the Northern Latitudinal Passage itself, Ura.ru cited an administration official as saying.
Yarovskaya may have been fired because of a comment she had posted on social media addressing rumors of Putin’s cosmetic surgery, according to Znak.com.
“I don’t see any botox or fillers. He looks his age,” Yarovskaya apparently wrote during the press conference, according to a screenshot of the post carried by Znak which is now unavailable on Yarovskaya’s Facebook page.
Yarovskaya had reportedly snatched the microphone from a colleague to ask her question about the bridge at the press conference, an unnamed source at the channel told Ura.ru.
“That’s not how it’s done in teams. Everyone was watching it live,” the person was quoted as saying.
Update: Yarovskaya confirmed to The Moscow Times that she had resigned but declined to say if it had been connected to her question at Putin’s press conference. The Yamal-region television channel confirmed that Yarovskaya had submitted her resignation but said that she was still currently working for the channel.