10/11/2021, 09.26
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Dmitrij Muratov, heir of Sakharov, awarded Nobel for Peace

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Awarded together with fellow Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. He directs the opposition newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Recognition dedicated to the members of his editorial staff and to the many colleagues who have died, such as Anna Politkovskaya. Muratov and his newspaper are known for their reports on relations between the Kremlin and the Chechen leadership.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, together with his Filipino colleague Maria Ressa, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2021. The assignment of the prestigious award to the 60-year-old director of the Novaja Gazeta is in recogniton for the struggle for freedom of expression as a condition for true peace between peoples.

It is the first Russian Nobel after 11 years (the last one went in 2010 to physicists Konstantin Novoselov and Andrej Gejm), and recalls more than any other the prize awarded in 1975 to the leader of dissent in the Soviet era: Andrej Sakharov. For years the authorities of the USSR had confined the physicist in the city of Gorky, before returning him to freedom under the reign of Mikhail Gorbačev, himself awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

The official motivation, published on October 8, speaks of "commitment to the defense of the freedom to express one's opinions, which is an indispensable prerequisite for democracy and the formation of a stable peace." The Nobel Committee explained that "Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov represent at the same time all journalists who have defended their ideals in the world, where democracy and freedom of the press are facing increasingly less favorable conditions."

Mr. Muratov declared that he will devolve a substantial part of the prize of about 980 thousand euros to the foundation "The circle of good", established in January this year by the Russian Ministry of Health to help children with rare diseases, confirming his well-known charitable commitment. The journalist attributed the recognition to the entire present and past editorial staff of the newspaper he directed: "It is for Novaja Gazeta, for those who died defending people's right to freedom of speech. It is for Igor Domnikov, Jura Ščekočikhin, for Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya and Anna Baburova, Natalia Estemirova and Stas Markelov. This is the truth, so I think, this is their prize." 

Muratov also remembered the blogger and opposition leader Aleksej Naval'nyj, who has been languishing in the Vladimir lager since the beginning of the year.

The eve of the awarding of the prize marked 15 years since the murder of Politkovskaya, who was investigating the links between the leadership of Chechnya and the Putin regime. The anniversary also meant the final burial of all investigations into her death, which is now beyond teh statue of limitations.

The Kremlin, has praised the awarding of Muratov, through spokesman Dmitrij Peskov, who stated: "he has worked with great consistency following his ideals, to which he is devoted, with his considerable talents. He is a courageous man, and this is a high recognition, which is to be congratulated."

Muratov was one of the founders in 1993 of Novaja Gazeta, of which he has been the editor-in-chief since 1995. In the Soviet years he had worked at Komsomolskaja Pravda, one of the first publications to open up to the freedoms of Gorbachev's glasnost. He joined the liberal Yabloko party for some time, also supporting another widely circulated magazine, Krokodil.

The newspaper he founded and directed then distinguished itself for its many hard-hitting reports on human rights violations, especially in Chechnya, the country Politkovskaya investigated and where Muratov himself was a correspondent during the armed clashes of 1994-1995. The journalist has taken positions on many burning issues in Russian political and social life, criticizing President Putin on several occasions, such as the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the repression against Naval'nyj and youth protest movements in recent years.

One of Novaja Gazeta's most recent notable investigations concerned the persecution of homosexuals in Chechnya, especially the extrajudicial punishments imposed on them in the Caucasian republic, documented in March. All the "martyred" colleagues remembered by Muratov found their death in Chechnya, or because of it; last March 15, after the last Chechen scandal revealed by the newspaper, a delivery boy was caught spreading poison powder at the entrance of the editorial office.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is very close to Putin, has called for the security services to intervene against the journalists of Novaja Gazeta, which despite the attacks continues to be one of the most widely read publications by the Russian public. The recognition of Muratov brings great moral relief to many Russian media outlets, which are increasingly pressured or referred to as "foreign agents," and subject to numerous restrictions.


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See also
Politkovskaya trial proving controversial
The trail of Anna Politkovskaja's murder leads to pro-Putin Chechens
Foreign connection in Politkovskaya’s murder unconvincing
Politkovskaya’s killer arrested but could prove just a scapegoat
Open trial for defendants in Politkovskaya murder case


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