The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for the Free Press

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Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

 Vladimir Pachkov, SJ / Human Rights / 25 November 2021


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On October 15, 2006, the journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was killed in the lift of her central Moscow home. She was 48 years old. The perpetrators of her murder have still not been found.[1] Exactly 15 years later, the editor of the newspaper where Anna worked, Dmitry Muratov, together with the Filipina journalist Maria Ressa, received the Nobel Peace Prize. According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, this prize was awarded to the two journalists for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace.”

It is important to explain why the prize was awarded to a journalist relatively unknown outside Russia, and not to an active politician. Muratov is the third person in Russia to receive the Nobel Prize, after the two well-known figures, Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (1975) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1990), but the first in the newly constituted Russian Federation.

He is now placed alongside two people who made a decisive contribution to the fall of communism in the USSR, and in Eastern Europe in general. The chaos of the 1990s, which was no less deadly for independent journalism than the dictatorship itself, was followed by Putin’s “stability,” which, while it may have brought economic improvement for the majority of citizens, has not solved the problems for people who consider freedom of expression an indispensable right. 

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