Journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri Muratov, resistance at all costs against the Kremlin

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov announced that he was attacked on Thursday by an unknown person who sprayed him with a red product on a train. Nobel Peace Prize 2021, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta had recently announced that he was auctioning off his medal in favor of Ukrainian refugees. Despite threats, he has been fighting since the 1990s to defend press freedom in his country.

The face and the t-shirt smeared with red paint. Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, photographed himself in the toilets of the train in which he was on Thursday, April 7.

“An unknown person attacked Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov in a train car,” the newspaper announced on its Telegram channel in support.

“They poured oil paint with acetone into the compartment. My eyes burn terribly. On the train from Moscow to Samara. The departure has already been delayed for thirty minutes. I will try to wash myself “, also explained Dmitry Mouratov, Nobel Peace Prize 2021, quoted in this publication. “He [l’agresseur, NDLR ] shouted ‘Muratov, this is for our guys’,” he added.

A second photo accompanying this post shows a sleeper train compartment splattered with a large amount of blood-red colored liquid. “Muratov got first medical treatment and took his train to see his mother (…). We are looking for the criminal who did this,” Kirill Martinov, former assistant to Dmitry Muratov, also said on Twitter. Police said they had opened an investigation and were looking for two men for the attack, according to TASS.

The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, denounced on Twitter an “unacceptable” act and “a new attack on the safety of journalists and the freedom to inform in Russia”. “The EU will continue to support independent Russian journalism,” he said. As an echo, the journalists of the publication exiled abroad announced, Thursday, the launch of a new publication Novaya Gazeta Europe in several languages, directed by Kirill Martinov, while specifying that it was not a question of a subsidiary of the original newspaper but very much an independent initiative.

“The conditions of a military censorship”

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian media have indeed been increasingly muzzled by the Kremlin. Pillar of investigative journalism, Novaya Gazeta announced at the end of March that it would suspend its online and print publications in Russia, after receiving a second warning from the Russian telecoms policeman, Roskomnadzor, for breaching a controversial law on “foreign agents”.

“There is no other solution. For us, and, I know, for you, this is a terrible and painful decision. But we must protect each other,” Dmitry Muratov wrote. , in a letter addressed to the readers of the newspaper. According to him, his editors continued their work for 34 days “under the conditions of military censorship”. Since the beginning of the invasion, the sites of many Russian and foreign media have been blocked in Russia. In March, the authorities also passed several laws cracking down on what they consider to be “false information” about the conflict.

Novaya Gazeta was the last stronghold of the free press still in operation. Dmitri Muratov had no hesitation in announcing on March 22 that he wanted to auction off his Nobel Prize medal for the benefit of Ukrainian refugees. The editor-in-chief had indicated in a press release that he wanted to help “civilian refugees, injured children and those who are sick and need urgent treatment”.

Inform despite the risks

At 60, Dmitry Muratov is a huge figure in Russian journalism. Born in 1961 in Samara, in the south-east of Russia, he got his first job in a newspaper in the 1980s after serving in the army. He discovered his vocation as a journalist by freelancing for a few local publications while studying philology at Moscow State University.

After having cut his teeth in the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, in 1993 he participated in the founding of Novaya Gazeta, with the financial support of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Under the leadership of Dmitri Mouratov, Novaya Gazeta, which he has directed almost continuously since 1995, has established itself as a scoop machine.

Corruption, affairs involving power: this newspaper looks at all the delicate themes, including those which, with the arrival of Vladimir Putin in the presidency in 2000, became unaffordable for the other media, in particular the war in Chechnya. More recently, Novaya Gazeta investigated the mysterious mercenaries of the Wagner group, soldiers in the shadows of Russia, or the repression of homosexuals in Chechnya, attracting the wrath of the leader of this Russian Caucasus republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, known for his brutality.

This commitment cost the lives of six of his collaborators, including the famous journalist Anna Politkovskaïa, known for her criticism of the Kremlin’s bloody war in Chechnya and assassinated on October 7, 2006 in the lobby of her building. The sponsors of this crime have still not been identified. Shaken by this murder, Dmitry Muratov had considered closing the newspaper, which seemed to him “dangerous for people’s lives”. But faced with the determination of his writing, he had finally decided to continue.

A Nobel Peace Prize

This investigative work has also earned the editorial staff of Novaya Gazeta more than sixty awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Above all, Dmitri Mouratov received the Nobel Peace Prize last October alongside Filipino journalist Maria Ressa for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression”.

Ironically, the Kremlin had hailed Dmitri Muratov’s “courage” and “talent” on this occasion. “We can congratulate Dmitry Muratov. He works continuously following his ideals, keeping them. He is talented and courageous,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

During his Nobel acceptance speech, delivered on December 10, the editor-in-chief for his part dedicated his prize to Novaya Gazeta and its collaborators murdered for their work and their investigations. “This prize is also intended for living colleagues, for the community that fulfills its professional duty,” he insisted.

“We growl and bite. We have fangs and a grip. But we are the condition of the movement forward. We are the antidote against tyranny”, he had proclaimed before concluding: “I want journalists to die old “.

With AFP

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Journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri Muratov, resistance at all costs against the Kremlin