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29 December 2021, 14:21

Eismont: CNN journalist called my friends, family to land interview with Lukashenko

Matthew Chance. An archive photo
Matthew Chance. An archive photo

MINSK, 29 December (BelTA) – CNN journalist Matthew Chance was very persistent in his pursuit of an interview with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, Press Secretary of the Belarus President Natalya Eismont said in an interview with the Belarus 1 TV channel, BelTA has learned.

Natalya Eismont recalled that CNN asked for such an interview during the Big Conversation with the President press conference in August. “Back then they asked their question, one of many identical ones. They also decided to seize the moment, provided by the live press conference, and asked the president for an interview. It was smart. Naturally, the president made a public promise to give them an interview,” the spokesperson answered.

According to Natalya Eismont, a long and very interesting story preceded the interview. “Matthew Chance is an extremely persistent person. Starting from around January - February 2021, he kept calling and writing me and not only me. He found phone numbers of my friends, my coworkers, my relatives and called and wrote them too. First of all, of course, he tried to reach the head of Belteleradiocompany, my spouse. He used all available channels to negotiate the holding of this interview. He kept assuring us that it was a completely unique opportunity for all of us to make the entire Western world hear the president of Belarus,” she said.

Everybody knows what happened next. The interviewing style was also quite a story," Natalya Eismont noted.

She assumed that Western journalists learn acting skills. “Those who have come to Minsk have their own, very carefully crafted image. I graduated from the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and believe me I know what I'm talking about. They stick to this image from beginning to end, regardless of how an interview goes. This cannot but lead to certain thoughts," said Natalya Eismont.

She said that after the interview with CNN's Matthew Chance, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he was one of the most qualified journalists he met in his entire presidential career. “Here I will say he is highly trained not only as a journalist. But this is our guess. Matthew surprised us with this mismatch: a very passionate interviewer and the product we saw on the air. To be honest, we were puzzled a bit: a huge gap between such an effort to land the interview and the TV product released afterwards... So be it. It was an experience for us too," the spokeswoman noted.

She also recalled Aleksandr Lukashenko's interview with the BBC. They also requested it for quite a long time. They applied to the Belarusian president's press service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The BBC crew that requested the interview was working on the Belarusian-Polish border covering the situation with refugees.

“We watched their reports. In contrast to the general rhetoric towards Belarus in the Western media for the past year and a half, those reports were quite balanced. We also expected that our openness would play its role. They saw that hundreds of journalists were present from the Belarusian side of the border while there were none on the Polish side. Given everything that was happening then, we decided to meet them halfway. After all they saw the situation on the ground with their own eyes. Now we all know what came out of this interview,” said Natalya Eismont.

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