Russian Nobel laureate donates medal to Ukrainian refugees

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov says his award will be auctioned to raise funds for Ukrainians fleeing war.

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, in Moscow, Russia
'I ask the auction houses to respond and put up for auction this world-famous award,' Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov wrote [File: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize and the editor of the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, plans to donate his prestigious medal to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.

“Novaya Gazeta and I have decided to donate the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Medal to the Ukrainian Refugee Fund,” Muratov wrote in the paper on Tuesday. “There are already over 10 million refugees. I ask the auction houses to respond and put up for auction this world-famous award.”

Muratov’s newspaper is one of the last remaining Russian outlets critical of the Kremlin and has denounced the war on Ukraine.

But after President Vladimir Putin’s administration cracked down on independent media and essentially banned journalists from using the word “war” to describe Moscow’s military campaign, the newspaper said in early March it would remove some material related to Ukraine.

Last week, Novaya Gazeta’s front page carried the image of a news editor’s anti-war protest,  which saw her condemn Russia’s actions during a state television news broadcast, but blurred out part of the poster’s slogan.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special operation” to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out what it describes as dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

Muratov and Novaya Gazeta have previously said five things needed to be done right away: “Stop combat fire, exchange prisoners, release the bodies of the dead, provide humanitarian corridors and assistance, and support refugees.”

Novaya Gazeta has become one of the few remaining media outlets publishing viewpoints in opposition to the Kremlin.

Since 2000 it has seen six of its journalists and contributors killed, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

Muratov, who won the award jointly with Maria Ressa of the Philippines, co-founder of news site Rappler, dedicated his Nobel Prize last year to those who had “died defending the right of people to freedom of speech”.

Source: News Agencies