Nobel laureate Moeratov: journalists needed as an antidote to tyranny

The Russian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dmitri Muratov, warns that โ€œpowerful figuresโ€ in Russia make the spirits ripe for war. โ€œIn fact, in the minds of some politicians, a war between Russia and Ukraine is no longer ruled out.โ€

Muratov spoke at the ceremony of the peace prize in Oslo. He shares the award with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa. According to the Nobel Committee, both have committed themselves to freedom of expression and freedom of the press in their country. In the Philippines and Russia, these are under pressure.

According to Muratov, politicians who want to prevent bloodshed are seen as weaknesses in Russia. Threatening war would be patriotic.

Russia has pulled tens of thousands of military personnel along the border with Ukraine. Ukraine, the US and their allies fear a Russian invasion. Russian President Putin says he was not looking for that, but compared the situation in Eastern Ukraine to genocide yesterday. Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists have been at war there for years.

Nova Gazeta

Moeratov is editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He said that journalism in Russia is going through a dark period as hundreds of journalists and human rights activists are classified as โ€œforeign agents.โ€

In Russia, this equals enemies of the people, said Muratov. People who get this stamp will be picked up and put behind bars or worse. Moeratov dedicated his award to all investigative journalists and colleagues of his newspaper who were murdered because of their work.

Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa pleaded at the awards ceremony for combating hate speech in social media. โ€œWe need to change the hatred and violence, that toxic mite that flows through our information flows. American internet companies are making more profits when they spread hate and unleash the worst in us.โ€

Both journalists pointed out that the world needs independent journalism to counteract authoritarian regimes. โ€œYes, we growl and bite. Yes, we have sharp teeth and hold,โ€ said Moeratov. โ€œBut thats a condition for progress. We are the antidote to tyranny.โ€

Last journalist to receive Peace Prize

Ressa and Muratov are the first journalists to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in almost ninety years. The last one was the German Carl von Ossietzky in 1935, revealing that Germany was secretly rearming.

Ressa recalled that Von Ossietzky never got his award. He was trapped in a concentration camp and died in a hospital in 1938, partly as a result of assault.

By giving the prize to journalists today, the Nobel Committee is showing that it is again on or below for democracies, Ressa said.