RTE viewers welcomed presenter David McCullagh’s questioning in an interview with Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov.
The Six One News anchor interviewed Filatov amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, was attacked last night with buildings destroyed by missiles and flames lighting up the night sky.
At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed and 1,115 injured so far, the Ukrainian government has announced.
On the evening of the second day of the invasion, McCullagh interviewed Ambassador Filatov for the Six One News.
McCullagh asked Filatov when Russia would stop its aggression against Ukraine.
The ambassador said it was a “highly emotional issue” and a “humanitarian tragedy”.
McCullagh challenged him and said it was a “humanitarian crisis in Ukraine”.
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He said: “I’m sorry, Ambassador, but this war was started by Russia, it was fermented by Russia, it was prosecuted by Russia. Russia has armed the separatists in these regions.
The reporter said the ambassador was giving the “Russian version of events” and asked, “Why should our viewers believe the Russian version of events when Russia has been misleading us for the past few weeks.”
He referred to how ten days ago the ambassador told another RTE presenter that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “Ludacris”.
Towards the end of the interview, McCullagh referred to recent calls by Sinn Fein, Labour, Fianna Fail and MEP Billy Kelleher to expel Mr Filatov.
He asked, “Why should our government maintain your presence here when you act as an apologist for the massacre?”.
‘HIGH CLASS GRIDS’
Mr. Filatov replied: “That’s a good question. You could ask your government. It’s up to them. I can leave at any time.”
At the end of the interview, the journalist said: “Yury Filatov, Russian Ambassador to Ireland, for now at least.”
Viewers called the interview “fantastic” and said McCullagh performed “first class grilling.”
Noel said: “A fantastic interview David. You asked the tough questions and challenged him with the facts.
Fintan added that it was a “masterful interview”.
Another viewer said: “First class grilling from the Russian Ambassador by David McCullagh.”
Kate commented: “I wish that hadn’t happened. But damn it was powerful to watch. Fair play David McCullagh”.
Dee said: “Great interview, totally fearless and absolutely gripping. Thank you David McCullagh.”
Another viewer said: “An amazing interview with David McCullagh. His questions were tough, pointed and brilliant and his facial expressions were priceless.”
Another added: ‘It’s a tough but worthwhile watch – forensic and professional David McCullagh with the Russian Ambassador to Ireland polite but immediately defying obvious lies.’
And viewer Shannon said, “David McCullagh doesn’t take nonsense! Great interview!”
Today, MEP Billy Kelleher offered to drop off the ambassador “at Dublin Airport”.
Kelleher said: “Mr Russian Ambassador, leaving Cork now and will be outside your Embassy in three hours and drop you off at Dublin Airport.
“You are not welcome here.
“It’s time for you to go home!”