It was not a parody posted by the Onion but a serious job posting from The New York Times for a Moscow correspondent and it speaks volumes about how a correspondent should view Russia and report about the country.

To begin with, the job description took a dig at Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused him of sending out hit squads armed with nerve agents against its enemies, and makes a mention of the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who was allegedly poisoned. Then it described how Russia has cyber agents sowing disharmony in the Western democratic countries, ignoring the swelling number of Covdi-19 patients at home.

Here's the job description:

Vladimir Putin's Russia remains one of the biggest stories in the world. It sends out hit squads armed with nerve agents against its enemies, most recently the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. It has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony in the West to tarnish its democratic systems, while promoting its faux version of democracy. It has deployed private military contractors around the globe to secretly spread its influence. At home, its hospitals are filling up fast with Covid patients as its president hides out in his villa. If that sounds like a place you want to cover, then we have good news: We will have an opening for a new correspondent as Andy Higgins takes over as our next Eastern Europe Bureau Chief early next year.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would work with any U.S. leader, but not ready to recognize the election victory of Joe Biden. "We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people," Putin said on Russian state TV. "But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognized by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way."

Putin Coughing
Vladimir Putin coughing during a televised meeting with his ministers Kremlin.ru

The comments might have triggered NYT to post the job description to ridicule the Russian leadership and accuse them of interfering in the U.S. election process, with allegations of Moscow's role in 2016 poll outcome still fresh in mind.

Pravda's Parody in Response

While the RT kept it on top of its news coverage, many left-leaning newspapers have assailed the description and questioned how Wikileaks was haunted by the US in the past, a parody response came from the Russian news agency Pravda with a similar job description for a U.S. correspondent and it read:

Donald Trump's America remains one of the biggest stories in the world. It sends out its armies, its drones, and its agents around the world to kill its enemies. It has its cyber agents sow chaos and disharmony, undermining and overthrowing regimes, while promoting its faux version of democracy. It has deployed private military contractors around the globe to secretly spread its influence. At home, its hospitals are filling up fast with Covid patients as its president hides out on the golf course. If that sounds like a place you want to cover, then we have good news. We will have an opening for a new correspondent.

Diplomatic Row

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the NYT's job description as "Russophobia" that may affect its other staff based in Moscow. "Does the newspaper even have the right to risk the life of a correspondent by sending them to work in such inhuman conditions?" Zakharova wrote in a Facebook post.

Instead, she advised The New York Times to limit to the U.S. and not send its journalists to be physically present in Russia to "spread lies."

(This is a developing story, to be updated)