The Norwegian Nobel Committee today decided to award the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov "for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace".
Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions.
In 2012, Ressa co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler's CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. A statement said Rappler has "focused critical attention on the Duterte regime's controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign".
"The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country's own population," the statement said.
Muratov, on the other hand, has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta.
Since 1995, he has been the newspaper's editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. "The newspaper's fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media," the statement added.
Novaja Gazeta's opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper's start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya.
Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper's independent policy. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.
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