Russian Nobel Winner: The Peace Prize goes to my paper, and not to me

Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta was acutely aware of the fact that his independent Russian newspaper, a constant critic of Russia's government corruption and human rights violations in Russia, was a leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Russian Nobel Winner: The Peace Prize goes to my paper, and not to me

Dmitry Muratov, editor of Novaya Gazeta was acutely aware of the fact that his independent Russian newspaper, a constant critic of Russia's government corruption and human rights violations in Russia, was a leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

TheEditor
TheEditor
09 October 2021 Saturday 14:44
298 Reads
Russian Nobel Winner: The Peace Prize goes to my paper, and not to me

He didn't think about the prestigious award when he was named co-winner. Friday was an emotional day for Muratov, who was engaged in a phone conversation with Elena Milashina, a reporter.

"At that point, there were many calls from Oslo. Milashina would not have believed Muratov's recklessness to tell her to "Wait, Oslo will call me and then you and mine will fight," Muratov stated on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Finally, his newspaper's spokeswoman informed him that he and Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, had been awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle for freedom of expression in countries where journalists have been subject to harassment, intimidation, even murder.

Muratov, a 59-year old, was similar casual and even sardonic about the award that came from Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman. The radio host asked Muratov for his opinion on Peskov's statement. Muratov claimed he had not read the statement and was offered by the radio host to have it read to him.

Muratov asked, "Should i rise?" Then he heard that Peskov stated "he is committed, he has talent, he's brave."

Muratov replied, "All of the above is certain true."

Other Kremlin circles had far more modest reactions.

"The Nobel Peace Prize is one the most controversial nominations by the Nobel Committee. These decisions devalue the prize, it is already difficult for it to be guided," stated Dmitry Kiselev. His weekly newsmagazine program on state television is filled with slams to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and disdainful remarks about the opposition.

Peskov's words of congratulation could be seen as a determined spin-control, considering how harsh Novaya Gazeta has been towards Putin and his government. They may also reflect relief that the Norwegian Nobel Committee didn't choose another Russian nominee to the Peace Prize -- the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

International fame was gained by Navalny's arrest in dramatic circumstances this year after he had returned from Germany from a treatment for nerve-agent poisoning. He blames the Kremlin. Many of his supporters regretted that his courage in facing Russia's government didn't win him the Nobel.

LyubovSobol, one Navalny's most visible and close aides, congratulated Muratov via Twitter but said that she believes Navalny to be "the most important fighter of peace in our country."

Although pleased with the recognition, Muratov agreed to it.

He said, "I can tell ya directly that if i were on the Nobel committee, i would vote for him for his insane courage."

Since its 1993 founding by Muratov, and former colleagues from the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Novaya Gazeta has been the subject of controversy. It was once the organ of the Communist Youth League. According to Muratov's 2007 International Press Freedom Award citation, the goal was to create "an honest, independent, rich publication that would influence nation policy."

Muratov is not only receiving international attention for the Nobel, but he has also tried to minimize his personal importance by repeatedly stating that the award was given to the entire paper as well as to its six contributors or reporters who were killed.

Anna Politkovskaya was the most well-known victim. She was a journalist covering Russia's Chechnya Wars and was shot to death in her Moscow apartment building's elevator in 2006. One day after her 15th anniversary, Muratov was awarded the Nobel Prize. Six people were convicted for the shooting but the order to do so has yet to be identified. The statute of limitations expired on Thursday.

Yuri Shchekochikhin was a reporter who investigated corrupt business deals and the possible involvement of Russian security service in 1999 apartment bombings. The perpetrators were never identified. Anastasia Baburina, a journalist representing the family of a Chechen girl who was raped by a Russian military official and then murdered, was killed in 2009 when she was confronted with a lawyer.

Journalists and the paper have also been subject to a variety of threats. These include a severed goat's head, funeral notices, and mysterious powder dustings at the house of a reporter.

Recent highlights include reports on the alleged torture of gay men by Chechen officials, publication of bodycam footage showing Russian prison officials torturing an Inmate and the beheading in Syria of men thought to be Russian mercenaries who are closely connected to Putin.

Although the paper's report about the "Blue Whale" phenomenon, in which Russian youths were allegedly lured online to commit suicide, was criticised as being possibly exaggerated, a Russian man claimed later to have orchestrated it and was sentenced.

Concerns were raised about the Nobel Peace award, which could make Novaya Gazeta a "foreign agents" under Russian law. This refers to individuals and organizations that receive foreign funding but engage in unspecified activities. This stipulation appears to be intended to undermine their credibility.

Yevgenia Albats (editor of Novoye Vremya's news magazine) stated that she hopes Muratov's status will protect Novaya Gazeta and provide protection for Russian journalists who are widely reported as foreign agents. "I hope that this will allow Russian journalism to survive in these difficult circumstances."

Just hours after the Nobel announcement was made, nine additional journalists were added to the Russian Justice Ministry's list of foreign agents.

Comments

Warning!

You have to login for comment. If you are not a member? Register now.

Login Sign Up