Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was awarded with the Golden Pen of Freedom last night (June 12), in recognition of his service to press freedom.
The award, presented at the opening ceremony of the 68th World News Media Congress, 23rd World Editors Forum and 26th World Advertising Forum, recognises the outstanding action, in writing or deed, of an individual, group or institution in the cause of press freedom.
Since Muratov and collegues founded Novaya Gazeta in 1993, the publication has continued to produce in-depth investigations on sensitive issues such as high-level corruption, human rights violations and abuse of power, all whilst under the eye of the authorities.
Novaya Gazeta continues to wield considerable influence with its uniquely uncompromising editorial lineMarcelo Rech, president, World Editors Forum
Independent media organisations in Russia face heavy restrictions on what they can cover, and access to information is extremely difficult to obtain.
Fifty-six journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992, six of them from Novaya Gazeta, where its reporters have been targeted in retaliation for their work, or have died under suspicious circumstances. Many of its staff still receive regular threats.
Speaking in a pre-recorded video from Moscow, Muratov explained why he continues to fight for press freedom.
“Only five per cent of the population in this country understand the freedom of media as a prime, core value, while about 80 per cent believe the main problem in Russia is poverty. Very few associate the two," said Muratov.
"Without freedom of speech, there is no way out of poverty. Freedom means that there is control over corruption and the state, which means that it impedes poverty.
"We are not just going to just observe life – we will intervene."
Accepting the Golden Pen of Freedom on behalf of Muratov was Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, who explained that journalists are constantly attacked due to the "system of impunity that has developed".
"Businessmen, corrupt law enforcement officers and officials know that if they order the death of a journalist, they will get away with it," Sokolov said.
"Independent journalists are living this way in Russia now, but I can only be proud of the fact that I am working with them and am honoured to be a friend to them.”
Without freedom of speech, there is no way out of poverty. Freedom means that there is control over corruption and the state, which means that it impedes poverty.Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief, Novaya Gazeta
The Golden Pen of Freedom has been presented annually by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) since 1961, and seeks to recognise the outstanding action of an individual, group or institution in the cause of press freedom.
Whilst presenting the award, Marcelo Rech, president, World Editors Forum, told the 700 delegates of the opening ceremony that the award acknowledges Muratov's courage, determination, and professionalism in order to "keep the flame of freedom burning".
"Despite the Kremlin's success in marginalising independent reporting and the levels of violence and impunity media professionals face in Russia, Novaya Gazeta continues to wield considerable influence with its uniquely uncompromising editorial line,” said Rech.
“Today, the global media industry stands in recognition of its crucial work.”
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