‘People for the state or state for the people?’ Russian journalist accepts Nobel prize with call for press freedom

‘People for the state or state for the people?’ Russian journalist accepts Nobel prize with call for press freedom
Image: Euku via Wikimedia

10 December 2021

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has called on world leaders to defend media freedom while accepting his Nobel prize in Oslo.

“We are journalists, and our job is clear: to separate fact and falsehood,” the editor-in-chief of Russia’s Novaya Gazeta said during his acceptance speech at the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony on 10 December. Muratov was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace 2021 for his efforts “to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” He received the accolade together with Maria Ressa, the editor of the independent media outlet The Rappler, from the Philippines.

Muratov used his acceptance speech to draw attention to political freedom in Russia. “Journalism in Russia is going through dark times. Over the past few months, more than 100 journalists, media, human rights activists and NGOs have received the status of ‘foreign agents’, meaning ‘enemies of the people’. Many of our colleagues were left unemployed. Some have been forced to leave the country,” he said.

The 60-year-old media veteran also denounced the rise of dictatorial rule, and announced he would help set up an International Tribunal against Torture. “There is an illusion that has gained traction now, that progress can be achieved through technology and violence, and not by the observance of human rights and freedoms,” he said. “Such is progress without freedom. [...] In our country (but not only), this idea is popular: those politicians who avoid blood are [considered] weak people, and threatening the world with war is the duty of ‘true patriots’ [...] People for the state or state for the people? This is the main conflict today,” he declared.

Throughout his speech, Muratov paid tribute to two other Russians who won the Nobel Peace Prize: the Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and activist for disarmament Andrei Sakharov, who won the accolade in 1975, and the last General Secretary of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, who received the prize in 1990.

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