A Russian Nobel Prize for helping children displaced by war in Ukraine. Dmitry Muratov, Russian editor of the independent investigative newspaper Novaja Gazetasold on Monday the medal he had received by winning the prestigious award in 2021.
The item set a new record for auctions of this kind: the buyer paid $ 103.5 million (about 98 million euros) to afford it. This amount will be donated to the Unicef program dedicated to Ukrainian children displaced by the conflict, according to Heritage Auctions, which is responsible for the sale.
For Unicef, which does not belong to any government
Dmitry Muratov had won the Nobel Peace Prize with Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, in which the committee honored them “for their efforts to preserve freedom of expression”. He dedicated it to his diary Novaja Gazeta and his collaborators “who died to defend people’s right to freedom of expression”.
The sale, which took place in New York, was very animated, marked by many applause and stimulated by the bidders who encouraged each other to drive sales upwards. The medal was finally acquired by a bidder whose identity has not been revealed. As the final offer dropped, increasing by tens of tens of millions of dollars compared to the previous one, the room was surprised, including Dmitry Muratov himself. His choice of Unicef as the recipient of the funds was motivated by the concern “crucial to us that this organization does not belong to any government” but can “work over” without “limits”.
A newspaper silenced by the war
Dmitry Muratov is one of the founders of the newspaper NOvaia Gazeta in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union and has been editing it almost continuously ever since. The three-week magazine, best known for its investigations into corruption and human rights abuses in Chechnya, this year became the last major newspaper to criticize President Vladimir Putin and his tactics inside and outside the country.
Novaja Gazeta announced in late March that it was suspending its online and print publications in Russia until the end of the intervention in Ukraine, in full hardening of the Kremlin against dissonant voices. “There is no other solution. For us, and I know for you, this is a terrible and painful decision. But we have to protect each other,” the Nobel laureate wrote in a letter to the newspaper’s readers. work for 34 days “under conditions of military censorship” since the launch of the Russian offensive.
The newspaper has already paid a high price for its commitment: six of its journalists or contributors have been killed since the 1990s, including the famous journalist Anna Politkovskaia, known for her criticism of the Kremlin’s bloody war in Chechnya and assassinated on October 7, 2006. The sponsors of this crime have never been identified.
“We must help the people who suffer the most”
Shaken by this murder, Dmitry Muratov had considered closing the newspaper, which seemed to him “dangerous to people’s lives”, he confided to AFP in March 2021, but had decided to continue in light of the editorial staff’s determination. On Monday, he praised the endurance of journalists, which is an important obstacle for governments and a means of preventing war. “No matter how many times we each want to give notice and resign, we have to stay in our jobs,” he told AFP.
In a video broadcast by Heritage Auctions, the journalist says that winning the Nobel Prize “gives you an opportunity to be heard”. “The most important message today is that people understand that there is a conflict and that we must help the people who suffer the most,” he added, referring in particular to “children in refugee families.”