Margarita SimonyanThursday, May 14, 2020
Margarita Simonovna Simonyan (born 6 April 1980) is a Russian journalist and the editor-in-chief of the English-language television news network RT (formerly Russia Today) and of the state-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya.
Simonyan was born in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, into an Armenian family. Both of her parents are descendants of Armenian refugees from the Ottoman Empire. Her father's family, originally from Trabzon, settled in Crimea during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. During World War II, they were deported by Beria's NKVD to the Urals along with thousands of other Hamshen Armenians. While her father was born in Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk), her mother was born in Sochi to an Armenian family that had fled the massacres of the Armenians by the Turks in the late 19th century. Her family owns a restaurant in Moldovka town in Adlersky City District, Sochi. She is from a working-class family and decided at an early age she wanted to become a journalist. She first worked for the local newspaper, and then for a local television station while studying journalism at Kuban State University.
In 1996, Simonyan spent a year in Bristol, New Hampshire, as part of Future Leaders Exchange student exchange program. She says during that time she discovered Russians and Americans "are so much alike in terms of culture, in terms of family values, ways of life, reactions, sense of humor".
Simonyan covered the Second Chechen War and serious flooding in Russia's south for her local television station, receiving an award for "professional courage". In 2002, she became a regional correspondent for Russia's national Rossiya television channel and covered the 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis. Simonyan, one of the first journalists to arrive at the scene, witnessed the killing of 334, 186 of them children. She told an interviewer "It was the worst thing that ever happened to me," and that she cried frequently while trying to write about it. She then moved to Moscow and joined the Russian pool of Kremlin reporters.
She was the first Vice-President of the Russian National Association of TV and Radio Broadcasters and a member of The Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. In 2010, her first book, Heading to Moscow! was published.
Simonyan was (formerly) married to the journalist and producer Andrey Blagodyrenko giving birth to the couples daughter, Mariana, in August 2013.
In September 2014, Margarita gave birth to a son Bagrat, whose father is a Russian-Armenian film director Tigran Keosayan. Simonyan wrote the script for Crimean Bridge: Made with Love! (2018), a film directed by Keosayan, to whom she is now married.
Simonyan is fluent in Russian and English. She stated in a 2012 interview that she regrets not knowing Armenian, but explained that it is because her family never spoke Armenian at home due to dialectal differences.