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 attack across the globe.
The two were honoured “for their heroic battle for freedom of speech” in their respective nations, according to Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen.
“At the same time, they are representations of all journalists who defend this concept in a world where democracy and press freedom are increasingly threatened,” she continued. “Free, independent, fact-based media protects against power abuse, falsehoods, and war propaganda.”
Muratov dedicated his medal to six Novaya Gazeta authors 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 dead 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 benefit her organization’s goal.
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 subject. 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 rejected by a Philippine court in August, one of 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.
The predicament of Ressa, one of six journalists selected Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for their efforts to combat media intimidation, has sparked worldwide alarm about media harassment in the Philippines, which was formerly seen as a regional leader in press freedom.
Reuters colleagues in Moscow were astonished and happy, according to Nadezhda Prusenkova, a journalist at Novaya Gazeta.
In recent years, Russian journalists have encountered an increasingly challenging environment, with many being required to register as state agents.
“We will use this award to promote Russian journalism, which (the authorities) are now attempting to suppress,” Muratov told Podyom, a news website. “We will make every effort to assist persons who have been identified as spies and are now being treated as trash and banished from the nation.”
Source: The Indian Express