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Article on Nobel Peace Prize winner ends amid Russian pressure

Russia’s leading independent newspaper suspended its operations on Monday following pressure from Russian authorities, a move less than six months after its editor won the Nobel Peace Prize for his writing. He bravely reported in difficult circumstances.

The newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, said it would remain closed for what period it referred to in the quote as a “special operation” in Ukraine, a term that Russian authorities have required media to use.

The newspaper was the last major independent media outlet to criticize President Vladimir Putin’s government after others shut down or blocked their websites since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on May 24. 2.

The cause of the closure was the second official warning from the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor, who has increasingly assumed the role of censor in recent years, Novaya Gazeta has long had a difficult relationship with the government.

Novaya Gazeta’s longtime editor Dmitry Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines, in October. Last week, Muratov said he was donating his Nobel medal for sale auction to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees and call for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine.

Exactly why Novaya Gazeta was alerted remains unclear. Roskomnadzor told state news agency Tass that the newspaper had failed to identify an unnamed NGO as a “foreign agent” in its report, as required by Russian law. It does not specify the report in question.

Novaya Gazeta crossed a fine line during the war in Ukraine. It initially defied Russian authorities’ restrictions, publishing in Russian and Ukrainian the day after the invasion began. However, it removed most of the war reporting from its website after Russian lawmakers passed a law on March 4 that threatened prison sentences of up to 15 years for information leaked by Russian authorities. is “fake”. That could include any mention of Russian forces harming civilians or suffering casualties on the battlefield.

On Sunday, Muratov submitted questions for an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy along with a group of Russian journalists. Roskomnadzor banned the publication of the interview with Zelenskyy in Russia and said the media involved would be investigated.

“A country without media (free Novaya Gazeta finally shut down), no discussion, no political competition, no official parliament,” Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter today. Monday. “This is modern (Russian Federation). That’s why Russians don’t see, hear, or recognize anything. No matter what language you speak to them.”

In its citation, the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted that six journalists of Novaya Gazeta were killed. The most famous of them all was Anna Politkovskaya, who reported on atrocities during the Second Chechen War at the start of Putin’s first Russian presidency. She was shot dead in her apartment in 2006. Five men were found guilty of her murder in 2014, but there has never been a verdict on who ordered her murder.

Muratov said that winning the Nobel was “a recognition of the memory of our fallen colleagues,” including Politkovskaya.

Novaya Gazeta herself is born from the legacy of another Russian Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He won the Peace Prize in 1990 and used part of the award to fund the area that would later become Novaya Gazeta, which was launched in 1993.

Putin warned Muratov after his victory last year, when asked if the newspaper could spy on other media when it was branded by Russian authorities as a fearsome “foreign spy”. meaning.

“If (Muratov) does not violate Russian law and if he does not give a reason to be announced as a foreign spy, then he will not be,” Putin said. “But if he is hiding behind the Nobel Prize as a shield to do something that violates Russian law, it means that he is doing it consciously to draw attention to himself. .”

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