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- If you answer that, I can be judged

– If you answer that, I can be judged

The destruction of the media in Russia looks more and more like an act of war, says the winner of the 2021 Russia Peace Prize, Dmitry Muratov.

– It must be said that the destruction of the Russian media has been completed.

Muratov’s newspaper, which he founded and still has its editor in chief, Novaya Gazeta, had to close on March 28 after Putin attacked Ukraine.

On Monday, Muratov was invited to the newly launched Global Freedom of Expression Forum in Lillehammer, where 250 representatives from human rights organizations, publishers and the press from more than 50 countries are taking part.

– Banned like drugs

Due to the situation that arose after the attack on Ukraine, he was forced to attend the conference via pre-recorded video and telephone interview.

– Independent media are almost as forbidden as drugs, Muratov told the audience via the telephone line and the translator.

Video speech: Dmitry Muratov believes that the destruction of the Russian media is complete. Photo: Dmitriy Muratov

In the video post, Muratov says that employees of Novaya Gazeta have stated that up to 300 independent websites have been blocked by Russia’s prosecutorial office since the start of the war.

“This is 20 times more than the total number that has been blocked during the entire history of Russian Internet censorship,” Muratov said.

media holocaust

He says that since the end of February, since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, 260 sources have been added to the list of illegal resources, 58 anti-war websites have been blocked, and 25 fund-raising platforms for helping Ukrainians have been blocked.

The Ministry of Censorship or the Russian government has banned Western technology platforms. Even Instagram is banned.

– I am very concerned about the fate of countless cats on Instagram, joking.

– But to be serious, the next step for the Russian government is undoubtedly the complete and complete isolation of the Russian Internet from the rest of the world.

– Muratov says that the blocking of social networks and major websites and the persecution of journalists, including the use of street terror, is really an excuse, like a media holocaust.

Switch to VPN

He believes that VPN, the virtual private network, is now the most important tool for people in Russia to read blocked websites and media to get information.

– Virtual private network. Everyone knows what a VPN is. It is an opportunity to read the media illegally, Muratov says.

Most people who read news via VPN are doing something illegal in some way.

“As a symbol of the killing of freedom of expression, we can see how FM 91.2, where the famous Democratic radio station Ekho Moskyv has been for 30 years, was not only closed, but was given to the state company RT, known in Europe as Russia today,” says Muratov.

The radio frequency, which was a symbol of the free exchange of opinions, is now swallowed up by the Kremlin and continues to be destroyed by the Kremlin’s propaganda apparatus.

Widespread violence and threats

Muratov believes that the authorities in Russia in recent years have unleashed on intimidation of journalists, activists and politicians.

– April 16, 2019 my colleague Dmitry Bykov from Novaya Gazeta was poisoned. He ended up in a coma and was in critical condition, Muratov says.

In the coma: Dmitry Bykov was taken from Novoya Gazeta to a hospital in Moscow.  Photo: Dmitriy Muratov / Novaya Gazeta

In the coma: Dmitry Bykov was taken from Novoya Gazeta to a hospital in Moscow. Photo: Dmitriy Muratov / Novaya Gazeta

– I was with Bykov and saw how he was about to die from the same type of drug, apparently committed by the same people who poisoned opposition politicians Alexei Navalny a year later.

It was just as much as they managed to save Bykov’s life.

Poisoning editorial offices

– In the evening, a person in a protective suit, his face covered, entered the Novaya Gazeta building and sprayed it with a poisonous substance, says Muratov.

The entire building was vacated, including other buildings that rented offices there for a week. It was not possible to breathe there.

It is believed that the same type of poison was used in the home of Novaya Gazeta and journalist Yulia Latynina of Echo Moscow.

– She lived in a small house with her elderly parents and elderly neighbors.

– The same type of fluid she used in her car before setting it on fire.

The car of journalist Yulia Latynina in Novaya Gazeta caught fire after it caught fire.  Photo: Novaya Gazeta

The car of journalist Yulia Latynina in Novaya Gazeta caught fire after it caught fire. Photo: Novaya Gazeta

– Nobody was able to find the culprits and Latina was forced to leave the country

The police, the investigation committee, and the FSB did not find or arrest anyone who was obstructing the work of a journalist or obstructing his work.

paint attack

On April 7 this year, the Peace Prize winner felt the threats to his body.

– It’s almost comical, on April 7 I took the train from Moscow to Samara to spend two days with my mother.

Covered in paint: Dmitriy Muratov after the paint attack on the train.  Photo: Dmitriy Muratov / Novaya Gazeta

Covered in paint: Dmitriy Muratov after the paint attack on the train. Photo: Dmitriy Muratov / Novaya Gazeta

– In the cart, I covered it from head to toe in nasty red paint with acetone. This caused a 40-minute delay on the train route and all passengers were transferred to other vehicles because the passenger compartment was damaged, Muratov said.

The police couldn’t find anyone. It’s been seven weeks and no one has been found. Although every step you take is at the train station, it is a high-risk area where great care is taken, with surveillance cameras everywhere.

He says the newspaper’s journalists were able to find the names and addresses of the attackers within 24 hours.

The government avoids looking for these criminals in the same way a cat chases and bites its tail. But a cat will never hurt its tail.

Don’t you dare answer

There is one question from Jakob Nielsen, Editor in Chief of Danish Altinget.dk, and Muratov will not answer.

PHONE INTERVIEW: 2021 Nobel Prize Laureate Dmitriy Muratov, during an interview with WEXFO 2022 in Lillehammer by Editor-in-Chief Jakob Nielsen at Danish Altinget.dk and interpreter Alexandra Savonava.  Photo: Harald Bjørnson Jacobsen / Nyhetene, TV 2

PHONE INTERVIEW: 2021 Nobel Prize Laureate Dmitriy Muratov, during an interview with WEXFO 2022 in Lillehammer by Editor-in-Chief Jakob Nielsen at Danish Altinget.dk and interpreter Alexandra Savonava. Photo: Harald Bjørnson Jacobsen / Nyhetene, TV 2

– After the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union decided to ban two Russian networks, Russia Today and Sputnik, in all EU countries. Do you support this decision, Mr. Muratov, or do you think the EU is doing exactly what it criticizes Russia for doing?

– Answering this question, Dmitry can be prosecuted for criminal acts. Translator Alexandra Savonava says that Muratov answers if we want him to answer more questions.

– Well, I think that is a very expressive answer in itself. Jakob Nielsen replied, I apologize for putting you in trouble, that was not the purpose of this interview.

Novaya Gazeta journalists working in exile

– It is now a European version of Novaya Gazeta, made by some Russian journalists in exile. Can you tell us what is the purpose of this website?

“Under Russian law, they can in no way be linked to Novaya Gazeta in Europe,” Muratov said.

– Fellow Novaya Gazeta journalists working on the European version of Novaya Gazeta. But they are not related in any other way.

Auctions for the Nobel Gold Medal

In his letter, Dmitry Muratov asks himself how to do something when you feel completely helpless and without a chance to make a difference. He says those in Novaya Gazeta decided there was a way.

– You have to help those who feel worse. Muratov says, for example, refugees.

– In Novaya Gazeta, we decided to put up for auction the gold Nobel Prize medal, which was awarded to us in 2021.

Away from the auction: Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2021. Now Muratov's medal will be auctioned as income to the children of Ukrainian refugees.  Photo: Odd Andersen / AFP

Away from the auction: Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2021. Now Muratov’s medal will be auctioned as income to the children of Ukrainian refugees. Photo: Odd Andersen / AFP

Heritage auction house said it will not charge a fee to conduct the auction.

According to Muratov, UNICEF has agreed to accept funds to support Ukrainian refugee children.

– People have ruined their past. We are trying to do something to ensure that their future is not destroyed. So that they have a future.

He hopes that as many as possible will support the fundraiser, not only by purchasing the medal, but also by putting up their own antiques for sale.

We want to see a flash mob for human solidarity.

The Global Fund for Journalists proposes

To facilitate the struggle for freedom of expression, Muratov believes that a global fund for journalists should be created to support journalists who are forced to flee their country.

It must be non-governmental and must be organized as a gift/grant to universities.

It obviously has the name of the fund.

– She can be named after Anna Politkovskaya, who gave her life for freedom of expression. (Killed on Putin’s birthday, October 7, 2006).

Calling colleagues in exile

Dmitry Muratov now urges all his fellow journalists who have traveled from closed media in Russia and who are now looking for work or trying to restart their publications in a foreign country to continue reporting.

In conclusion, I would like to quote the wonderful director Fassbender.

“What cannot be changed, must at least be described.”

– It must be documented so that the war will not be repeated in the future, concludes the Peace Prize Winner.

– Provided that the future still exists.

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