Exiled Russian journalist scores interview with Moldovan president

Moldovan president Maia Sandu giving an interview to YouTuber and journalist in exile Yurii Dud. Screenshot from video on Yurii Dud YouTube channel. Fair use.

Moldovan president Maia Sandu recently gave an interview to Yurii Dud, a Russian journalist in exile. While the interview itself is both heartwarming and interesting — among other things, Sandu talks about Moldova's undivided support for Ukraine and hopes for integrating her country into broader European structures — it is quite unusual for a president to give an interview to a vlogger.

In addition, Sandu's interview is in Russian. There is an ongoing controversy in Moldova about the use of the Russian language. It was cancelled as the language of  “international communication” in 2018 by the Constitutional Court of Moldova. Romanian is now the only official language of Moldova, with other languages considered “minority” languages. However, Russian is in fact the language that a large proportion of population in Moldova still use for communication. When asked whether her choice of language was due to the upcoming elections (in order to reach out to the Russian speaking communities in the country), Sandu denied the suggestion.  She said that there are a lot of Russian language media in Moldova, and she is happy to be interviewed in any language. The Moldovan presidential elections are scheduled to be held in October 2024.  

Read more: Moldova refused to use language constructed by Soviet cultural policy

Dud, a prominent Russian journalist, vlogger, and television and radio host, has been uploading his interviews exclusively to YouTube for a number of years. He began his career as a sports journalist, working at the publication PROsport, and on the television channels NTV-Plus and Russia-2. From 2011 to 2018, he served as the chief editor of Sports.ru.

On February 7, 2017, Dud launched a YouTube show called vDud, in which he interviews notable figures like journalists, businessmen, cultural icons, internet personalities, and politicians. As of May 2024, the show has garnered a following of 10.3 million subscribers.

While working in his country before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Dud became famous and popular as an interviewer who asks honest, uncensored questions. He also produced documentary films that focused on Russian history, including “Kolyma, the Homeland of our Fear,” which examines the region infamous for Stalin's gulags, where political prisoners were housed, and “Beslan. Remember.

Beslan is the name of a town in Severnaya Osetiya, the north Caucasus republic of Russia, where terrorists held schoolchildren, parents and teachers hostage from September 1–4, 2004. The terrorist attack became known as the Beslan School Siege, in which 334 people — including 186 children and 31 of the attackers — died in what is considered the deadliest school shooting in history.

Criticism has continued over the Russian government's handling of the crisis, including accusations of deployment of excessive force, and claims of disinformation and censorship in the news media.

In February 2020, Dud released another documentary, this time about the HIV situation in Russia, which he calls “an epidemic that is not talked about.”

For more, read: Groundbreaking film on Russia's HIV epidemic goes viral

When the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022, Dud publicly condemned the move and left the country. By March 10 of that year, three episodes of his YouTube channel had been declared extremist in Belarus: “Komissarenko – a new life after protests in Belarus,” about the famous Belarusian comic and YouTuber Slava Komissarenko,” “NEXTAthe main media of the Belarusian protest,” and “How to continue living when they rob you of your country,” which dealt with the issue of Belarusians in exile.

On April 15, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice declared him a “foreign agent.” Like many opposition figures and media outlets forced to flee the country after the invasion — and the strengthened repression and censorship that went hand in hand with it — Dud now continues his work in exile from Putin's Russia. He has since produced numerous interviews and documentaries, all of which have sparked both interest and controversy — in Russia and abroad.

One of Dud's last interviews, completed the year before the invasion, was with Alexey and Yulia Navalny on the eve of their leaving Germany (Navalny was being treated there after an assassination attempt) for Russia. The opposition leader and political prisoner was arrested and murdered in February 2024, in the Russian prison colony. His conversation with Dud was Navalny's last known interview.

Dud's strong track record of journalistic work may have contributed to President Sandu's decision to give him the interview, his first with a head of state.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.