Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov will not keep “a single penny” of his prize

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has been awarded this year with the Nobel Peace Prize. She shares the prestigious award with Maria Ressa, another activist Filipino journalist.

Both journalists received the award for their efforts in defense of freedom of expression in their respective countries, and the Nobel committee described them as the “representatives of all journalists who defend this ideal.”

Muratov is co-founder and director of Novaya Gazeta, which has been defending freedom of the press and expression in Russia for decades. Six journalists working for the newspaper have allegedly been killed in connection with their investigative work, which exposed corruption, crime and other alleged abuses.

In an exclusive interview with UN News, Muratov explained what he will do with the prize money, why he loves Novaya Gazeta and his opinion on the censorship of the press.

UN News: We had planned to do this interview last night, but they told me that he was with Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday. Can you tell us about the meeting?

Dmitry Muratov: Talk later; he was joking. For example, he spoke of the mission of Novaya Gazeta and praised us for “hardly ever disappointing the truth.” I admit that we are not perfect and that we have made our mistakes.

UN News: Are you happy with the assessment you have made of your work?

Dmitry Muratov: Yes I am. Much.

UN News: I have read on the internet that Novaya Gazeta, when it was founded, was partially financed with money from the Nobel Peace Prize that Mikhail Gorbachev himself received.

Dmitry Muratov: Yesterday he told me that, in fact, it was not Nobel Prize money. Rather, it was the money from the publication of the book by Raisa Gorbacheva (the late wife of Mikhail Gorbachev, who died in 1999) entitled I hope. They made this donation to buy computers for Novaya Gazeta. But I prefer to think that part of the money was also from the prize.

Since it is a Peace Prize, I think I should contribute to this cause.

UN News: What will you spend the prize money on? Do you already have something in mind?

Dmitry Muratov: Let’s start with me, okay? I will not accept or receive a single penny. That is beyond question.

Since it is a Peace Prize, I think you should contribute to that cause. We have a meeting of the editorial board where we will decide how to distribute the Nobel Prize money.

I will donate money to a health foundation that helps journalists; to a foundation that supports children with spinal muscular atrophy and other serious rare diseases; one part will go to the Anna Politkovskaya Prize Foundation; And, of course, a part will go to the Moscow children’s hospice, the Vera Foundation and the Dmitry Rogachev Clinic, where children with leukemia are treated. That is all.

UN News: You have repeatedly said that you regard the Award as recognition to all Novaya Gazeta staff and especially to those who are no longer there. Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated 15 years ago.

Dmitry Muratov: Yes, exactly 15 years, on October 7.

UN News: Don’t you think the award was late?

Dmitry Muratov: Just in time I think.

Novaya Gazeta

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the publication “Novaya Gazeta” in his office.

UN News: In congratulating the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the General secretary of the UN said, I quote: “No society can be free and fair without journalists who are capable of investigating irregularities, bringing information to citizens, holding leaders accountable and speaking the truth to power.” What do you think?

Dmitry Muratov: This is what I think. It is an absolutely successful idea, and I would like to start from it. You see, the UN Secretary General talks about censorship.

What is censorship? It is a manifestation of distrust towards his own people. Those who introduce censorship do not trust their people. In different countries of the world, many individuals who, of course, consider themselves independent, simply do not believe in their people.

They think that they are the ones who determine what the people should read, see and listen to. This lack of trust in the people is the most dangerous. You have to trust the people.

UN News: What would you like to tell our listeners about your newspaper? How do you survive today?

Dmitry Muratov: Well, first of all, thanks to the people we have. We have an absolutely incredible staff: they are the stars of Soviet and Russian journalism, as well as people who will become the stars of modern journalism. Some write essays, others, for example, do big data research.

The combination of both, the synergy that exists in our newsroom between those who write brilliant texts and those who make code and programming, those who dig in search of impossible information; for me, it is the recipe for our extraordinary success.

I love this “angry team of friendly people”.

This lack of trust in the people is the most dangerous. You have to trust the people.

UN News: What do you know about María Ressa? Have you met her?

Dmitry Muratov: I know a lot about her! She is an exceptional journalist. The first issue of the newspaper that was published after we found out about the award had a picture of Maria Ressa on the cover, not our faces.

We hold it in the highest esteem. In the past, several members of our staff followed their training courses. Today we sent you a letter. We would love to invite the Nobel Peace Prize winner to lecture the staff of Novaya Gazeta and to students who want to attend.

She is an exceptional woman who faces tyranny alone.

UN News: So do you approve of the election of the Nobel Committee?

Dmitry Muratov: I am delighted. Naturally, I am also delighted that Novaya Gazeta received the award, it is true, but I think Maria Ressa is a brilliant choice.

I don’t know how it happened, how it all happened. We will only know in fifty years [cuando el Comité Nobel revele toda la información sobre el proceso de nominación y selección].

I won’t live that long to see it though. But the fact that my name is mentioned alongside yours is just fascinating!

UN News: Do you know how the award ceremony will be held?

Dmitry Muratov: I received a letter this morning saying that the ceremony will be held in Oslo. But let me end our conversation by saying that we would be delighted to greet Maria at our Moscow office.

We would love to say thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable material

Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov will not keep “a single penny” of his prize

Hank Gilbert