Philippine journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov have won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Peace for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in their countries.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it decided to award the coveted award to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”.
Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, 60, and Maria Ressa, 58, will equally share the prize amount of 10 million Swedish krona ($1.1 million).
The winners, who were chosen from among 329 nominees, were announced at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo Friday.
Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country. In 2012, she 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. Rappler has focused critical attention on Philippine regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign, headed by President Duterte. Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.
Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. Since 1995 he has been the editor-in-chief of Novaja Gazeta, which he co-founded. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The Nobel Committee noted that 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. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and “troll factories” to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.
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 in a statement that it is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. “The 2021 peace prize laureates are representative of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” it added.
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