The Russian Justice Ministry has recently added Dmitry Muratov, the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, to its list of ‘foreign agents’. Muratov, who is the editor-in-chief of the long-standing liberal newspaper ‘Novaya Gazeta’, has been accused of spreading negative attitudes towards Russia in foreign nations.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Muratov and Filipino investigative reporter Maria Ressa for their commitment to free speech, which the award’s committee described as a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace. At the time, the journalist was congratulated by the Kremlin, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov praising Muratov’s persistence, talent, and bravery.
In response to receiving the prestigious award, Muratov paid tribute to jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny, expressing that he would have voted for him. ‘Novaya Gazeta’ has been known for its critical stance on Russia’s policies, and Muratov himself has been highly critical of the ongoing Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
The Russian Justice Ministry’s decision to label Muratov as a ‘foreign agent’ was accompanied by the addition of eight other individuals to the list, including journalists, a former local MP, an economist, and a comedian. These individuals were accused of spreading misinformation about Russian policies, inciting unauthorized protests, and disseminating anti-Russian sentiments.
The designation of a ‘foreign agent’ in Russia is reserved for individuals who receive foreign funding or are considered to be under foreign influence, and who aim to influence Russia’s policies or public opinion. The law regarding ‘foreign agents’ was originally passed in 2012 and was amended in 2018 to enable the Justice Ministry to label individuals as such. Muratov has previously criticized this policy, describing it as “shameful.”
Two months ago, Muratov delivered a speech at the ‘Global Media Forum’ organized by Germany’s state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle. In his speech, he expressed his belief that Russia was moving towards a ‘junta’ rule and was no longer a part of Europe.
The addition of Muratov to the list of ‘foreign agents’ has raised concerns about freedom of speech and the press in Russia. Critics argue that this move further restricts independent journalism and silences dissenting voices.
The decision by the Russian Justice Ministry not only affects Muratov personally but also has implications for ‘Novaya Gazeta’. As a liberal newspaper, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ has been a prominent platform for critical voices and investigative journalism in Russia. The label of ‘foreign agent’ could lead to further restrictions and consequences for the newspaper and its journalists.
In conclusion, the inclusion of Dmitry Muratov, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on the list of ‘foreign agents’ by the Russian Justice Ministry highlights ongoing concerns over freedom of speech and press freedom in Russia. The decision has implications not only for Muratov personally but also for ‘Novaya Gazeta’ and independent journalism in the country. Critics argue that this move further restricts independent voices and stifles dissenting opinions.