The pair received the award for their efforts to protect freedom of expression in their respective countries, and the Nobel Committee called them “representatives of all journalists who stand for this ideology.”
Mr. Muratov is the co-founder and editor of the Novaya Gazette, which has stood for freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Russia for decades. Six journalists working for the newspaper have been killed for alleged involvement in their investigative work, highlighting corruption, crime and other alleged abuses.
In an exclusive interview with UN News this week, he explained what he would do with his prize money, why he loves the Novaya Gazette and what he thinks about press censorship.
UN News: We had planned this interview the night before, but I was told that you were with Mikhail Gorbachev at that time. Can you tell us about it?
Dmitry Muratov: We talked, he joked. For example, he commented on the Novaya Gazetteer’s mission: he praised us for “rarely disappointing the truth.” I admit, we’re not perfect, and we were wrong.
UN News: Are you happy with the evaluation of your work?
Dmitry Muratov: Yes I am. Too.
UN News: I read on the internet that the Novaya Gazeta, when it was being created, was partially funded by Mikhail Gorbachev himself, who received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dmitry Muratov: He told me yesterday that it was not actually Nobel Prize money. Rather Raisa Gorbachev published the book that got the money [former wife of Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in 1999] “I hope so”. They donated all of this to buy computers for the Novaya Gazette. But I think there was some prize money as well.
Since this is a peace award, I believe it should contribute to this work.
UN News: How will you spend the financial rewards? Do you already have a plan?
Dmitry Muratov: Let’s start with me, okay? I will not take and will not accept, not even one percent of it. It’s out of the question.
Since this is a peace award, I believe it should contribute to this work. We had an editorial board meeting where we decided how the Nobel Prize money would be distributed.
So, it will be donated to a health foundation that helps journalists, a foundation that helps children with spinal cord injury and other serious rare diseases, a part will go to Anna Politkovskaya Prize Foundation and of course a part will go to Moscow, Vera Foundation and Dmitry Rogachev Clinic Children’s hospice, where children with leukemia are treated. That’s it!
UN News: You have repeatedly said that you consider the Novaya Gazette a reward for the entire staff and especially for those who have left. Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated 15 years ago.
Dmitry Muratov: Yes, exactly 15 years 7th October.
UN News: Don’t you think the awards are late?
Dmitry Muratov: Just in time, I think.
UN News: Congratulating the Nobel Peace Prize winners, the UN Secretary-General said: “No society can be free and fair without journalists who can investigate injustice, bring information to citizens, hold leaders accountable and speak the truth in power. Can say “. What do you think?
Dmitry Muratov: Here’s what I think: This is a completely correct idea, and I want to make it. You see, the UN Secretary General is talking about censorship.
What is censorship? It is an expression of distrust towards your own people. Those who introduce censorship do not trust their people. In different countries of the world, many people, who of course consider themselves independent, simply do not trust their people.
They think that they determine what people should read, see, see and hear. Lack of such trust in people is the most dangerous thing. People have to believe.
UN News: What do you want to tell your audience about your newspaper? How do you survive these days?
Dmitry Muratov: Well, first of all, thanks to those of us who have. We have absolutely amazing staff – they are the stars of Soviet and Russian journalism, as well as those who will become the stars of modern journalism. Some write essays, others, for example, do big data research.
The combination of both, the combination that we have in our editorial office, those who write brilliant writing, and those who do coding and programming, those who search for impossible information, are the recipes of outstanding success for me.
I really love this “kind man in the angry team”.
UN News: What do you know about Maria Resa? Seen?
Dmitry Muratov: I know a lot about him! He is an extraordinary journalist. The first page of the newspaper published after learning about the award had a picture of Maria Racer on the front page, not our face.
We have the highest respect for him. In the past, several members of our staff took his training courses. Today we sent him a letter, we really want to invite the Nobel Peace Prize winner to give a speech to the Novaya Gazette staff and those who will join.
She is an extraordinary woman who faces oppression alone.
[Maria Ressa] An outstanding woman who single-handedly faces persecution.
UN News: So you approved the Nobel Committee’s choice?
Dmitry Muratov: I’m glad. Naturally, I’m also glad that Novaya Gazeta has been awarded, it’s true, but I think Maria Resa is a brilliant choice.
I don’t know how it happened, how it happened. We will only know about this in fifty years [when the Nobel Committee discloses all the information behind the nomination and selection process].
Although I won’t live long enough to see it. But my name is mentioned next to it is just interesting!
UN News: Do you know how the awards ceremony will be held this year?
Dmitry Muratov: I received a letter this morning that the event would be held in Oslo. But we ended our conversation by saying that we would be happy to greet Maria at our office in Moscow.