I Appear On RT To Discuss Occupy Wall Street

Here’s the video. Big thanks to the guys at RT, the channel that has been at the forefront of covering OWS for providing me with this opportunity.

I was contacted by RT after they noticed my post on why OWS isn’t happening in China and Russia. As befits a program aimed at an American audience, however, the conversation revolved around the prospects for OWS solely in the US. In particular, as winter approaches and media attention wanes, will the Occupy movement be able to remain relevant to its 99% constituency?

Unfortunately, as it was my first time on live TV, I did not manage to make the best impression – as the interview went on, I could not prevent stammers and pauses from beginning to infest my conversation. So apologies for that.


  1. Awesome, congratulations!
    I didn’t expect you to appear on RT like that though it is entirely deserved!

    From the way you write I as a reader imagined your diction to be different, more fluid and incisive.
    Now as you said it was your first time, so I suppose you weren’t very relaxed. Are you used to speak in front of a large audience, as in a theater or a conference? Here in France I hear politicians are all on media training with real journalists as their coaches. That sure helps!

    Hopefully you’ll have other opportunities and become a media pundit

    • I’ve talked to 30 or so people at a time several times. I’m usually slightly nervous at the beginning, but start enjoying it midway through. That said when I did so I didn’t talk nearly as badly as on the video. I’ve never talked to an audience of more than 50 people, and I guess there’s a big difference between talking to 30 people or to 300 people (or on live TV).

      I certainly hope there will be more opportunities to appear on video in the years ahead.

  2. Yeah, I thought from the way you write that you would have almost no accent, especially considering the length of time you’ve lived in the USA and England, but your accent in fact is very pronounced. That’s not a criticism, just an observation; I saw Eugene Ivanov on TV once (I think it might have been you who forwarded me the link), and I was struck by what a strong accent he had as well. I guess you never really lose it.

    Don’t sweat the stammering, you did fine, as good as anyone else who appears on TV less often than a reporter (for whom talking in front of a TV camera is ho hum, second nature). All in all, pretty cool. You’d never catch me on TV, especially if I didn’t know in advance what I was going to be asked.

    • It depends says:

      Mark: “I guess you never really lose it.”

      From my experience, it greatly depends on how people go about their lives. If you work in customer support and talk to people all day long then your accent is likely to be milder, in some cases almost imperceptible, especially if you care enough to pronounce the words correctly.

      On the other hand, if all you do is “writing” (e.g., writing articles, developing software, data processing, etc) and you hardly need to talk during your regular daily activities then your accent is likely to remain strong, regardless of how many years you’ve spent in the country.

      Your point about knowing in advance what would be discussed during the interview is spot on.

      • That’s an interesting point, and one I hadn’t considered. My wife is Russian, and although she still has a noticeable accent and probably always will have, it’s less pronounced and she’s only been in an all-English environment for 5 years. But she deals with English-speaking people in a public setting every day, and only speaks Russian at home.

        Recent (last few years) interest in international politics has taught me that a televised interview opportunity is a double-edged sword – as often as it is a benign environment that allows you to get your viewpoint out, it is a trap intended to make a patsy out of you and discredit your entire demographic (liberal, conservative, pro-issue, anti-issue) along with you personally. It’s important to keep in mind that you might be portrayed as speaking for many more people than just yourself, and that detractors will be just as eager to exploit your performance as will supporters.

        • People differ.

          I noticed that Russians hardly ever lose their accents unless they are born abroad or come as infants. I have not met a single one who came here after the age of 10 who did not have a noticeable Russian accent.

          It is the same with Chinese people. On the other hand, some nationalities adapt much easier.

          My own accent (from what people tell me) has a noticeable Scottish element in addition to the Russian, which is not surprising as I lived in Scotland for two years a long while ago. Expecting a California accent is unrealistic as I have only lived here at an age when accents harden and become nearly impervious to change.

          • Henry Kissinger still speaks English with that very thick Dr. Strangelove German accent, and yet he was living in USA since the age of five!

  3. Anatoly good job ! No worries, it looks like deeply natural and this is good…

    Yout Russian accent in english is from far less pronounced than my French accent in english so do not worry 🙂

  4. Anatoly: congrats for interview, you did a great job, especially considering you are not a professional pundit. Now, these professional anchors, like that smooth-talking handsome rascal who interviewed you, were not born with that perfect British diction, they learned it, and studied, and practiced. It is a learned skill, and something you can improve if you decide you want to do more interviews. Taking acting lessons, doing poetry slams, etc., can be helpful, as they teach you to comport yourself with confidence in front of an audience.
    For starters, since you know a lot of people, you probably have a friend who is a communications major in college, this person can coach you in practice interviews, debates, etc. Before an inteview, try to guess what questions they will ask you, practice your replies in front of your own video camera, then play back to watch yourself in action and get your own feedback. When you speak in front of a camera, try consciously to slow down, add more intonation and facial expressions, punctuate your main point with a catchy one-liner, make eye contact with the camera, etc. These are all learned skills. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but anybody can improve through practice. And don’t worry, nobody expects you to be Cicero. Forgive me if I am offering unwanted advice. All in all, it was an awesome interview!

  5. Thorfinnsson says:

    -Lose the accent (you’ve lived here how long?) or deepen your voice (deep Russian accents are distinctive and cool)
    -Grow your hair out. Shaved heads are scary.
    -Wear a (good) suit, and for heaven’s sake don’t wear black like that. You have a swarthy complexion, so the black makes you look sinister. Lighter shades will contrast well with your complexion and improve your look.

    Overall what you said was very good, but image is everything. The stuttering isn’t much to worry about as it fades with practice. Another indication of your nervousness is that you’re blinking way too much.

    • Thanks for the advice, but… The accent probably isn’t going to change as it hasn’t in the 17 odd years I haven’t lived in Russia. I like the shaved head and goatee.

      I may consider wearing a suit next time, but I think a black shirt is respectable, and I certainly don’t see why you’d consider me swarthy.

      • Thorfinnsson says:

        It really depends on your ambitions. Are you content remaining a writer, or do you wish to become a media pundit? If you’re content being a writer, and you are a very good writer, by all means continue to not optimize your look and image.

        • Okay I’ll wear a suit, but the shaved hair and goatee is not something I feel comfortable compromising on. 🙂

          And the point about the accent remains valid. However much I may want to be able to manipulate it, I have no idea how to set about learning it how to do it.

          • Thorfinnsson says:

            I was born here, so I can’t offer personal tips on accent elimination. From what I can tell it’s definitely a very challenging thing and has little relation to intelligence (e.g. Kissinger, Schwarzenegger) and relates more to mimicry ability (probably why children pick up language so well) and discipline.

            My father moved here at age 24 and has no accent whatsoever, but then Swedish is closer to English than Russian.

            On the other hand, making your voice deeper is not difficult at all.

            I’ll live to fight another day on your sense of style.

            • Start singing along with the radio. Ever known anyone to sing with an accent? Look at Sinead O’Connor – accent you could make a boiled dinner out of. But not when she sings. Ditto Joe Cocker, who can’t speak any language when he’s not singing.

              Granted, their accents reappear immediately as soon as they’re not singing. But it helps teach you discipline and a degree of control over your accent. They don’t bother to try and erase theirs, but I bet they could to an astonishing degree as a result of singing.

              Oh, and be sure to post all your singing practices on YouTube. I recommend you start out with “I Want To Know What Love Is”, by Foreigner’s Lou Gramm. You do that, and I’ll even put on a robe and sing backup in the choir.

          • Anatoly: I personally think your Russian-Scottish accent is very pleasant. However, if you did decide to lose it for public speaking purposes, then the only way to do that is by hiring a professional voice coach:

  6. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Dear Anatoly,

    Congratulations on an excellent first interview! May there be many others.

    By the way there is nothing wrong with the occasional stumble. What matters is that you have something substantial to say, which you absolutely do. Speaking from Britain it was immensely refreshing listening to you and makes a happy contrast to our Prime Minister who talks endlessly and with extraordinary fluency saying nothing for hours and doing it all without notes.

  7. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention, your accent is fine!

  8. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Anatoly,

    Congrats for your first interview!
    Just some words of encouragement : it’s not too bad as you made it to be! Yes, the accent is strong but to be honest, I am not too bothered about accents – you spoke clearly and that is most important, in my opinion.
    I think public speaking is a skill that will improve with more experience. In my profession, I have to do some public speaking from time to time and I have improved with more experience. As for stammering, I still have that! Not a big issue. One point to note on public speaking is to have a summary of points and counterpoints already ‘ready’ at the back of your head so that one can state something succinctly.
    Good luck in your future interviews!


  9. Finally had a chance to sit and watch your interview – I thought it went really well, and although you did stammer a bit, it wasn’t particularly noticeable, and didn’t detract from what you were saying at all.

    Like Mark, I had a completely different voice for you in my head – somehow I imagined you with a bit of a Lancashire accent.

    Although I’m not sure why – speaking as someone who has come from the West Country, I’ve found it hard to shift my Somerset burr as well now that I live in London. Probably spend too much time listening to the Wurzels…

  10. Yeah man, you look very sinister and evil, like Torfinn said. Mexican drug cartel leader or something.