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Russian Activist Alekseyeva Says NTV Interviewed Her Under False Pretenses

Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva (file photo).
Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseyeva (file photo).

MOSCOW -- Prominent Russian human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alekseyeva says journalists from pro-Kremlin NTV television tricked her into giving an interview by claiming they were with RFE/RL.

The 89-year-old head of the Moscow Helsinki Group also said that NTV took her comments out of context when it aired excerpts from the interview, and paired them with footage in a way that made her appear to criticize migrants.

Alekseyeva told RFE/RL's Russian Service that NTV journalists phoned her twice several days ago. After she rejected their request for an interview in the first call, they called a second time and presented themselves as RFE/RL correspondents, she said.

She said she agreed, believing they were RFE/RL, and invited them to interview her at her Moscow apartment.

When the journalists were leaving the apartment after the interview, Alekseyeva said, her assistant noticed the NTV logo on their equipment cases.

A brief excerpt aired on NTV on December 18 showed her appearing to comment on footage of a man -- identified by NTV as a migrant -- pushing a woman on a subway staircase in Berlin. It showed Alekseyeva calling the man "a scoundrel."

German media reported that the man in the footage was an EU citizen from Bulgaria.

On Facebook, NTV spokeswoman Maria Bezborodova did not comment directly on the phone calls but said the journalists had told Alekseyeva that they were from NTV, and called it a "strange situation."

In NTV footage from the end of the interview, one of the journalists can be heard telling Alekseyeva when the material will air and adding, "On NTV," but it is unclear whether she hears that.

Alekseyeva said she would not have knowingly agreed to be interviewed by NTV.

The channel, which is controlled by the media arm of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, has targeted Kremlin opponents in documentaries and reports that subjects and their supporters say have been falsified.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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