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Independent Journalist and Podcast Host, “Hi, You’re a Foreign Agent” (Russia)
Olga Churakova is an independent Russian journalist and podcast host who covers political developments in Russia. She previously worked for the investigative journalism outlets IStories and for Proekt (The Project), where she wrote about corruption, internal Russian policies and protests in Belarus. In July 2021, Russian authorities banned Proekt’s work and labeled Olga a “foreign agent.” The designation was intended to discredit her and limit her ability to work, but instead led her to start the popular podcast “Hi, You’re a Foreign Agent.” Working outside of Russia now, she and her co-host Sonya Groysman discuss their professional challenges and the problems faced by other journalists in the same situation. The podcast received the Medusa Award as the best podcast in Russian, and with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, it was included in the selection of the best anti-war media projects. Olga was nominated for the Russian Editorial Board award more than 15 times, and was shortlisted for the European Press Prize for “Master and Chef,” an investigation about Russia’s presence in Libya. Olga began her career in 2012 at the daily Novaya Gazeta and has also worked for the business daily Vedomosti and Dozhd TV (TV Rain) as a political journalist.
As a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, she is studying the predicament of individual journalists maligned as foreign agents or public enemies by governments attempting to restrict their funding, reporting and impact.