Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, and Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, have won the Nobel Peace Prize for "their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." This was announced by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.
The Nobel Committee says that since its start-up in 1993, Novaya Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and "troll factories" to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.
"Novaya Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaya who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Dmitry Muratov told the Podyom (‘rise’) Media Outlet that he had not expected to get the award and had seen a call from Norway, but had not picked up the phone, as he had considered it undesirable.
"Here's what I can say: we are going to use this award to bear Russian journalism’s troubles, which they are trying to repress, on our backs. That is it. We are going to try to help people who are now recognized as agents, who are being persecuted and removed from the country," Dmitry Muratov said.
Novaya Gazeta also reports that Muratov is going to transfer part of the Nobel Prize, about 1.14 million dollars, to the Krug Dobra (‘circle of good’) Foundation, which helps children with severe and rare diseases.
On December 23, 2020, the State Duma adopted a law tightening the legislation on foreign agents in the third reading. Since then, the authorities can assign this status to anyone.
Within less than a year, Meduza*, Vazhnye Istorii* (‘Important Stories’), TV Rain*, The Insider*, Mediazona*, VTimes* have been included in the register of foreign agents. The Proekt (‘’project) Media Outlet has been labeled as an undesirable organization. The Ministry of Justice has labeled more than 20 journalists and media editors-in-chief as foreign agents.
On September 14, more than 150 media outlets, NPOs, civic and educational projects demanded that the authorities repeal the law on foreign agents. They filed an appeal with the State Duma, the Federation Council and the human-rights ombudsman. According to social activists and journalists, the exercise of the law is pressure on civil society and an attempt to destroy independent media.