Dmitry Muratov, awarded today with the Nobel Peace Prize, is the patriarch of the free press in this country since the fall of the Soviet Union as editor of the newspaper “Novaya Gazeta”, the last bastion of independent criticism of the Kremlin.
“Muratov is a great man. There cannot be a more worthy person in this country for a Nobel Peace Prize. No one like him has defended, promoted and developed freedom of expression in Russia”, Elena Miláshina, the newspaper’s most awarded reporter, told Efe.
NOVAYA GAZETA FOUNDATION
The name of Muratov, who will turn 60 on October 30, is closely linked to “Novaya Gazeta”, a header that had also been nominated for the Nobel on several occasions.
Muratov led in 1993, two years after the Soviet disintegration, the group of journalists who left the newspaper “Komsomólskaya Pravda” with a clear objective in mind: to do a new journalism in line with the new democratic winds that ran in the country.
To do this, they had the invaluable help of the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who bought eight computers with part of the money he received as a Nobel Peace Prize, which allowed Muratov and his colleagues launch the first print run of 1,000 copies on April 1, 1993.
After working as a war correspondent in the First Chechen War, in 1995 Muratov was appointed director of the newspaper, a position he held until today with the exception of a two-year hiatus (2017-19).
With him in charge of the newsroom, “Navaya Gazeta” became the standard-bearer of an investigative journalism that did not accept hostages when criticizing the authorities, be it for corruption, the repression of democratic freedoms or human rights abuses.
The sinking of the atomic submarine Kursk (2000) in which its 118 crew members died was one of the first clashes with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who was criticized for not suspending his vacations and for failing to settle responsibilities among the Navy’s staff Russian.
Since then, Putin behaved, in the best of cases, “as if we did not exist,” according to sources from the newspaper told Efe.
Putin was once again the target of criticism for the controversial rescue operations after the terrorist kidnappings of the Dubrovka theater (2002) and the Beslán school (2004), which left hundreds of civilians dead.
Chechnya, a black hole for the Russian press, was one of the topics most covered by Muratov, who sent his reporters to cover the main events in the North Caucasian republic, from the two wars to the numerous cases of abuse by the Russian military.
In the last decade, the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, untouchable for the generalist press, received many criticisms of “Novaya Gazeta” for turning Chechnya into a kind of caliphate where the same laws as in the rest of the country did not apply.
The latest reports of the newspaper on the persecution, rape and murder of homosexuals in the republic and far from it by the Chechen security services received a great echo in the press and television around the world.
MURDER OF POLITKÓVSKAYA
Muratov had to face countless times in court to defend his journalists, who were continually threatened with death for their criticism of local authorities, especially in the Caucasus, and brought to trial for alleged defamation.
Said informative courage cost the lives of half a dozen of his journalists and employees. The most notorious case was that of Anna Politkovskaya, the top star of “Novaya Gazeta” and that she was assassinated by a Chechen commando in the doorway of her home on October 7, 2006.
“The Nobel is well deserved and very timely. They have granted it when a war has been declared against freedom of expression in Russia. We have received the best weapon in our endless fight for the truth”, declared Miláshina.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.