Fighters for freedom of expression

The Russian journalist Dmitri Muratow is one of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners. He received it for his efforts to uphold freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace, said the chairwoman of the Nobel Prize Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen when the award winners were announced in Oslo.

“Dmitri Andrejewitsch Muratow has defended freedom of expression in Russia for decades – under increasingly difficult conditions,” said Reiss-Andersen.

Alexei Wenediktow, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-critical radio station “Echo Moskwy”, describes his journalist colleague Muratow as a person with a fighter nature: “I have seen several times how he – as one of the very few – said things to the president’s face that made him very uncomfortable and fought for the freedom of expression. “

Co-founder of the “Novaya Gazeta”

In 1993 Muratow founded the newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” together with a group of journalists – with a clear resolution, as he explained in a radio interview a few years ago: “We didn’t want to make a boulevard. There is this spirit that stories have to sell, that the market regulates everything. But the market has prices, not values, “says Muratow. “The people who gathered in this newspaper office were young but old-fashioned at the same time. They went through good school.”

And that is noticeable in the work of “Novaya Gazeta”, said committee chairman Reiss-Andersen at the announcement of the Nobel Prize. The fact-based journalism of the newspaper and Muratow’s professional integrity have made it an important source of information – “also about sensitive aspects of Russian society”.

Muratow: Prize goes to deceased colleagues

The “Novaya Gazeta” has long been known outside of Russia for its investigative research into corruption, human rights violations, the activities of Russian military and secret services, and for its sharp political analyzes. A job that five journalists and a lawyer working for the newspaper have already paid with their lives.

Muratow, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta since 1995, declared shortly after the announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize was not due to him, but to those who died for the right to freedom of expression. He himself did not expect the award at all, which is why he did not take the call from Norway at first.

Congratulations from the Kremlin

Congratulations came not only from numerous journalists and from Russian opposition members but also from the Kremlin: “We can only congratulate Dmitri Muratow,” said Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov.  He is guided by his ideals in his work and remains true to them. He is talented, he is brave. This is a great honor and we congratulate him.”

The award could become a kind of protective shield for the editor-in-chief of “Novaya Gazeta”, say colleagues. Because the repression against journalists in Russia has recently increased sharply. 

Muratow himself wants to use the prize money to do even more for his oppressed colleagues and freedom of expression in Russia.