Shuster during a 2007 press conference
November 22, 1952
Vilnius, Lithuanian SSR
|Spouse(s)||? (first wife)
Olga Nevskaya (second wife)
Savik Shuster (Russian: Са́вик Шу́стер, Ukrainian: Са́вік Шу́стер, born Ševelis Šusteris; November 22, 1952 in Vilnius) is a journalist and host of Ukrainian TV shows as The Freedom By Savik Shuster and Shuster Live on Pershyi Natsionalnyi. From 2001 till 2004 he presented talkshows on the Russian NTV channel.
Born in Vilnius (then part of the Soviet Union now the capital of Lithuania) Shuster left the Soviet Union 1971, his parents (his father was a football coach) emigrated from their native Vilnius via Israel to Canada. A distant uncle, who was vice president of the oil company Shell Canada, intervened with Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin on their behalf. In 1976 Shuster graduated from McGill University in Montreal, with a medical degree. He then moved to Florence in Italy to continue his studies. There, he began writing for a local newspaper after realizing that he "did not like sick people". In 1980 Shuster worked for three months with a French humanitarian organization that was working on the side of the anti-Soviet mujahedin in Afghanistan, there he met Newsweek magazine's Asia editor and was offered a chance to write a few articles for them. Shortly after Shuster started to write for French newspaper Libération and the Italian magazine Frigidaire.
Career in Russia
From 1988 (when he didn't speak Russian often) to 2001, Shuster worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. From 1996 to 2001 he was the head of their Moscow office. In 1998 he began presenting a football show on NTV. Radio Liberty fired him over a perceived conflict of interest during Gazprom's takeover of NTV from Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST in April 2001. Radio Liberty said that, by continuing with his (Football) program at NTV, Shuster had violated its professional code and policy over conflicts of interests. Weeks after Gazprom's takeover, Shuster began anchoring NTV's "Hero of the Day" interview show and then "Svoboda Slova" (Freedom of Speech). Until 2004, he was the host of several talkshows on the NTV channel. Allegedly Shuster's and his employer NTV's coverage of the Moscow hostage crisis infuriated (then) President Vladimir Putin in 2002. In 2004 his show "Freedom of Speech" was awarded a "TEFI" by the Russian Academy of Television. Shuster's last Russian show was cancelled by NTV because "the audience was too old". According to Shuster, this was not the real reason the station closed his talkshow: "the truth was the Kremlin could no longer afford an open, live show". According to Shuster, in the Soviet era "in Kiev it was a dream to get to Moscow, but now Putin's politics is killing a lot of creativity, and Moscow is becoming less attractive for Ukrainians".
Career in Ukraine
Since 2005 Shuster has been working in Ukraine. According to Shuster, at first he had no plans to work in Ukraine but changed his mind shortly after a 2005 visit to a friend, Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, in Kiev a few months after Ukrainians "Orange Revolution" (Nemtsov was an adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko at the time). "I decided to go and make some fun of him, I planned to say to him, 'Boris, you finally found a place in politics, but it is in the wrong country.' But when I came into his office, I saw he was in a very good mood, and I said, 'Boris, maybe I, too, should go to Ukraine.'" A few months later, he lived in the Ukrainian capital, studied Ukrainian and worked in Ukraine as a broadcaster. From May 2005 Savik hosted "Freedom of Speech" talk show on ICTV. Later that year he presented "Freedom by Savik Shuster" on Inter TV. In August 2008 the production-studio "Savik Shuster Studios" was created, and in 2008 TV-channel "Ukraina" made a three-year contract with this studio for broadcasting the social-political talk show "Shuster Live". In July 2009 Shuster broke ties with the production company, which was renamed to Istil Studios. According to Shuster, in 2008, "When our program is on the air, it is watched on every third TV set in the country". "Ukraina" saw a sudden boost in popularity ratings after the start of Shuster's political talk show in September 2008.
In September 2009 Shuster claimed "unknown people" tried to sabotage the airing of his program "Shuster Live".
May 21, 2010 deputy head of the Administration of Ukraine Hanna Herman stated the wish that Ukraine's most popular political talks shows would be anchored only by Ukrainian journalists, "We are still victims to that imperial complex that 'everything coming from Moscow is good, everything Ukrainian is bad'".
Language of presenting
Shuster presents his (Ukrainian) programs in Russian. According to him, he "was allowed to do it because he was not ethnic Russian and everyone understood the language. But at first, on Ukrainian TV, Russian-speaking TV host was a phenomenon. Now the issue of the language is not a burning issue, there were other problems".
"However, I'm afraid I wouldn't be invited as they need exactly those who play up, and that's a kind of censorship. This allowed Putin to refuse participation in the debates at all. Here [in Ukraine] such a thing is just impossible. Those who refuse taking part in debates, they lose at once. When I had the live air on NTV, United Russia tried to boycott it realizing their public competitiveness is not high and actually they don't have many arguments. Then, though, they began to visit it again, as they had to. And now, with the absence of the live air, they all became 'masters'".
The Jamestown Foundation considers Shuster "a Yulia Tymoshenko sympathizer". In an 2009 interview with the Financial Times Shuster does not believe a revival of Russian democracy will happen: "If there is a political transformation in Russia, it will not be towards democracy. They have lost the foundation for a democratic transformation. They have decided to build power by looking for supporters among the intolerant. I think a fascist dictatorship is more likely than Nemtsov or Kasparov or Kasyanov coming to power".
Shuster is currently married to Olga Nevskaya (second wife). His first wife was Italian. She and his family continued to live in Florence (Italy) during his career in Russia and Ukraine. Shuster also has a stepson Artem who lives in Italy.
- Ganapolskiy, Matvei. "All show, no go, on 'Shuster Live'". Kyiv Post. Retrieved April 4, 2009.
- Herman wants anchorman Savik Shuster replaced by Ukrainian, Z I K (May 21, 2010)
- Our faces – Savik Shuster, Ukraina
- Television Star Savik Shuster, Ukrainians.Ca (December 22, 2008)
- It's All About Freedom of Speech for Shuster, The St. Petersburg Times (December 10, 2002)
- Savik Shuster: I'm the only thing to remain after the "orange revolution” , Novaya Gazeta (February 2, 2008)
- Russia's free media find a haven in Ukraine, Financial Times (July 11, 2009)
- Kommersant: Savik Shuster broke relations with its production studios, writersrepresent.com (July 14, 2009)
- Shuster proves popular on new channel, show, Kyiv Post (September 10, 2008)
- Shuster fell victim to neo terrorism, MIGnews.com.ua (September 15, 2009)
- Shuster projects to be broadcast on First National TV Channel in 2011, Kyiv Post (27 December 2010)
- Tuning Out, Kyiv Post (18 November 2011)
- Shuster back at Inter channel, Kyiv Post (19 February 2013)
- Live updates of the protests (Pro-government channel blocks talk show with opposition leaders; Nov. 29, 9:30 p.m.), Kyiv Post (29 November 2013)
- First National Channel refuses renewal of contract with Savik Shuster Studio in 2015, Interfax-Ukraine (16 December 2014)
- Eurasia Daily Monitor, The Jamestown Foundation – October 1, 2009 – Volume 6, Issue 180, The Jamestown Foundation (October 1, 2009 )
- (Ukrainian) Савік Шустер готовий померти в один день зі своїм продюсером?, Табло ID (March 4, 2009)
- (Russian) Ольга Невская: «В ночь после знакомства Шустер читал мне книгу по истории», Shuster Live (March 20, 2009)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Savik Shuster.|
- Savik Shuster website
- Talk-show "Shuster Live" (Mobile)
- "Become a leader"
- Sergiy Grabovsky on The Freedom Of Speech project of Savik Shuster (In Ukrainian)"
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