ABC host stuns Russian ambassador with opening question of TV interview

ABC host Sarah Ferguson skipped the niceties and shocked the ambassador with an abrupt opening question.

ABC host Sarah Ferguson left no stone unturned when interviewing the Russian ambassador to Australia, who was rather taken back by her opening question.

Getting straight into it, she confronted Alexey Pavlovsky with a very personal question.

"Ambassador, you're here in Australia enjoying the benefits of a free and open society. How do you live with yourself representing the repressive, dictatorial Putin regime?" she fired away on the 7.30 report on Monday night.

As the words "repressive" and "dictatorial" were uttered, Mr Pavlovsky broke out into a laugh — something Ms Ferguson questioned.

A photo of ABC host Sarah Ferguson. a photo of the Russian ambassador to Australia Alexey Pavlovsky.
ABC host Sarah Ferguson grilled the Russian ambassador to Australia Alexey Pavlovsky about Russia’s war on Ukraine. Source: ABC

"You find that funny?" she asked. "What I find funny is your way to start an interview," he retorted.

“It was a pretty straight question,” Ms Ferguson replied.

“Yes, too straight,” he said.

In response, the ambassador said he "never had problems living in (Russia)".

"I lived there for 13 years after my previous appointment before I came to Australia. I never had the impression that I lived in an authoritarian – how did you put it...?”

“Repressive and dictatorial were the words I used," Ms Ferguson said, before launching into the specifics.

“This is a regime that invaded its neighbour. It’s a regime where protests are suppressed, where your free media is muzzled, where dissenters are murdered or imprisoned, where the extent of your war casualties are hidden from the public.

“How would you describe this form of government, if not as a dictatorship?”

Rather than acknowledging the point, Mr Pavlovsky chose to sway from the line of questioning, tensely suggesting that the host could ask "substantial questions" about "Russia's policy position on certain issues in the world".

But she clarified it was "important for the audience to understand who the ambassador is and who he is "representing," before delving into questions about the Russia-Ukraine war, which she then did.

Opinion divided on interview with Russian ambassador

Just as the ABC host scrutinised the ambassador, so did most of the viewers of the interview.

"Well done Sarah. You’ve got your hands on the steering wheel exactly because you can drive a question straight through the BS!" one person commented on Twitter.

Some did question Ms Ferguson's hard-hitting interview technique, suggesting she wasn't "allowing him to respond" and "kept moving on" after asking questions.

However that opinion was soon shut down by others.

"People I normally respect are attacking Sarah Ferguson for asking hard questions of this P.O.S Putin propagandist," one person commented on Twitter.

"I watched the interview carefully and the Russian tried to obfuscate at every opportunity. It only seemed a waste of time after the event and not before," another said.

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