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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Russia. The court fined “Nowa Gazeta” and its boss Dmitry Muratov

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The independent “Novaya Gazeta” and its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov – this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner – were fined by a court in Moscow. The reason was that there was no mention that the organizations she cited were considered so-called foreign agents.

The decision was made on November 11 – the legal department of “Novoy Gazeta” explained that six administrative protocols were drawn up against the newspaper and its editor-in-chief, concerning “abuse of media freedom”. The court hearing was held without the participation of the journal’s representatives, as the editors had not been informed about it. The newspaper’s legal department has no information on the amount of the fines. Mediazona’s website reported that the amount of fines for the editorial office is 120,000 rubles (approximately PLN 6.5 thousand), and for Muratow – 12,000 rubles (nearly PLN 700).

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In early October, Muratov stayed with the Filipino journalist Maria Ressa winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021. The award was given to them for “working to protect freedom of speech as a condition of democracy and lasting peace.”

Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov Reuters Archive

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Following the decision of the Nobel Committee, discussions arose as to whether the Nobel Prize, which is a cash prize, will cause problems for Muratov in the form of recognizing the award for “receiving funds from abroad”, which is formally one of the criteria for recognizing someone as a “foreign agent”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, when asked about such a risk, stated that the head of “Novoy Gazeta” should not “hide” the Nobel Peace Prize he had been awarded and that if he violated the law, “she would not save him”.

Laws allowing NGOs to be considered “foreign agents” were adopted in Russia in 2012. Later, their operation was extended to the media and natural persons. Formally, “foreign agents” are entities that meet two criteria: receiving funds from abroad and conducting political activity. In practice, these criteria are interpreted very broadly.

Main photo source: Reuters Archive



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