On Friday, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, two journalists whose work has enraged the authorities of the Philippines and Russia, were given the Nobel Peace Prize, which the Nobel Committee described as a support of free speech rights that are under assault across the world.
The two were honoured “for their heroic battle for freedom of expression” in their respective nations, according to Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen.
“At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” she added. “Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.”
Muratov dedicated his prize to six Novaya Gazeta writers who were assassinated for their work exposing human rights abuses and corruption.
“Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Stas Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, Natasha Estemirova – these are the individuals who have received the Nobel Prize today,” Muratov added, naming the names of killed journalists and activists whose pictures hang at the newspaper’s Moscow offices.
Ressa, who has spent years fighting legal battles in the Philippines over her Rappler website’s work, said the reward will boost her organization’s goal.
“We’re going through a terrible moment,” she added, “but I believe we’ll hold the line.”
“We understand that what we do today will define what we will be tomorrow.”
First Time In 86 Years
The award is the first for a journalist since German Carl von Ossietzky received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 for exposing his country’s covert postwar rearmament programme.
Muratov, who is 59 years old, is the first Russian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. Gorbachev had a long history with Novaya Gazeta, has donated part of his Nobel Prize money to help establish the publication in the early post-Soviet days, when Russians were looking forward to new freedoms.
Ressa, who is 58 years old, is the Philippines’ first Nobel Laureate in any area. Rappler, which she co-founded in 2012, has become well-known for its investigative reporting, which has included large-scale deaths during a police anti-drug operation.
A libel action against Ressa was dismissed by a Philippine court in August, one of the numerous cases brought against the journalist, who claims she has been singled out because of her news site’s negative coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Russian journalists have faced an increasingly difficult environment in recent years, with many being forced to register as agents of the state.
“We will leverage this prize in the interests of Russian journalism which (the authorities) are now trying to repress,” Muratov told Podyom, a journalism website. “We will try to help people who have been recognised as agents, who are now being treated like dirt and being exiled from the country.”
Source – The Indian Express