Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Russia’s top independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, on Friday dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize to the newspaper’s contributors who were killed for their work.
“I can’t take credit for it. It belongs to Novaya Gazeta,” Muratov, 59, told Russian news agency TASS.
Since 2000, six journalists and contributors to the Novaya Gazeta have been executed in connection with their work, including top investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.
A fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s wars in Chechnya, he was shot 15 years ago on Thursday in the entrance hall of his apartment building in central Moscow.
Muratov, who has served as editor of the Novaya Gazeta several times since 1995, said he would give some of his Nobel Prize money to a foundation dedicated to children with rare diseases. The foundation, Krug Dobra – or Circle of Kindness – was founded in January at the behest of Putin.
Co-founded in 1993 by former Soviet leader and another Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, Novaya Gazeta is one of the few media outlets that have criticized Putin.
“This is good news, very good news,” Gorbachev said in a statement, calling Muratov a “courageous” journalist.
“This award takes the importance of the press to new heights in the modern world.”
The editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta was recognized as Russia’s voice of dissent and the independent media faced an unprecedented crackdown this year.
‘No More Press’
Prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny was jailed in February after returning from Germany to Russia, where he was recovering from a toxic attack on the Kremlin.
Their movement was later banned as “extremist”, while several major independent outlets were hit with the “foreign agent” designation, many even closed.
A word with Soviet-era ventures, the position is a deterrent to advertisers, a major source of revenue for many independent media.
Deputy editor Kirill Martynov said the award “came at the right time,” when “many, powerful forces in Russia want there to be no more press in the country, but only propaganda”.
“When almost everyone is a ‘foreign agent’ and when the media is shutting down,” he told AFP, “at this very moment, the Nobel committee pointed this out.”
Critics say the Kremlin is behind a crackdown on independent media that has forced the closure of many outlets and has seen some prominent journalists flee the country.
On Friday, however, The Kremlin congratulated Muratov, He was described as “talented” and “adventurous”.
“He remains committed to his ideals,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
The award was met with silence from most of Navalny’s top aides, while speakers criticized the Nobel committee’s choice.
“Instead of pretentious and hypocritical speeches about freedom, they can protect a man who survived an assassination attempt and was taken hostage by killers,” tweeted colleague Ruslan Shveddinov.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)