- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2021

The Russian government tried to take the high road following the announcement that a Russian journalist hailed for his work in the face of official intimidation was named a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Friday.

“We congratulate him on this well-deserved award,” Boris Belyakov, spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, told reporters in Moscow after the Nobel Committee announced that Novaya Gazeta publisher Dmitry Muratov was sharing the 2021 prize with Filipina investigative journalist Maria Ressa.

International press groups were already hailing Mr. Muratov‘s selection as a way to shine a spotlight on shrinking press freedoms in Russia and the dangers independent journalists face in reporting on the government of President Vladimir Putin.

Novaya Gazeta, where Mr. Muratov has been chief editor for all but two years since 1995, has endured as one of the country’s few independent news outlets, known for its reporting on such sensitive issues as the wars in Chechnya and government corruption. Several of the news organization’s reporters have been killed on the job, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot in her Moscow apartment building in 2006 after publishing some scathing exposes on rights abuses in Chechnya.

Mr. Muratov said he planned to use some of his prize money to boost independent journalism in Russia and explicitly dedicated the prize to Russian reporters killed in the line of duty.

The Nobel honor, he told TASS, was “for Igor Domnikov, it’s for Yuri Shchekochikhin, it’s for Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya, it’s for Nastya Baburova, it’s for Natasha Estemirova, for Stas Markelov. This is for them.”

Mr. Belyakov mentioned none of those names in his official response, merely praising Mr. Muratov for “his talent, high professionalism, adherence to beliefs and, what is important, his human qualities.”

“Apart from his professional activities, Dmitry Muratov actively engages in charity — he helps sick children. This deserves respect,” the spokesman said.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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