Even a Nobel Peace Prize won’t keep you off Vladimir Putin’s naughty list. That became clear after a longtime Russian news leader ended up being labeled a “foreign agent.” Here is the full story.
A Well-Respected Journalist
For more than two decades, Dmitry Muratov ran his independent newspaper in Russia without much issue.
Novaya Gazeta was not just a staple publication, it also won wide-ranging support.
Support From the Top
In fact, one of Muratov’s early financial backers was none other than Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union.
Putin Was Watching
Maybe it was those sorts of ties that eventually led to Muratov getting the evil eye from current Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Not a Gorbachev Fan
After all, it was Gorbachev who worked with western countries, including the United States, to bring an end to the Soviet Union.
And Putin has a well-known desire to reunite the former soviet countries under his rule.
That’s the main excuse he gives for Russia’s genocidal invasion of Ukraine.
Critical of the Kremlin
In recent years, Muratov and his paper have been critical of Putin and Kremlin policies in general.
He’s a Freedom Fighter
The journalist has fought tooth and nail to defend freedom of expression for Russians, and his efforts were widely recognized..
Nobel Peace Prize Winner
For his fire to keep information flowing even under the thumb of totalitarian rule, Muratov won the 2021 Nobel, along with Maria Ressa, the Philippines democracy fighter.
Not All Roses
But Muratov’s ongoing fight has also earned him plenty of heartache
Pulling Out of Russia
First, Muratov stopped operating Novaya Gazeta in Russia in response to the tight lid the government put on stories around the Ukraine invasion.
A New Home for Freedom
The publication didn’t die entirely, though, becoming the online Novaya Gazeta Europe. It’s now based out of Latvia.
Enemy of the State
And now, the BBC reports that Muratov has landed on Russia’s list of “foreign agents.”
No One Is Immune
Historically reserved for traitors and spies, the list has grown under Putin to include just about anyone who is critical of his reign or the Kremlin in general.
Putin’s Favorite Weapon?
The list has become a particular favorite in Putin’s battles to stifle any sort of public backlash against his actions.
No Negativity Allowed
In Muratov’s case, the Russian justice ministry says that he has “used foreign media to promote opinions that are aimed at forming a negative attitude towards Russia’s interior and foreign policy.”
Helping the Enemy
Part of the beef with Muratov is that he joined in to aid the defense of Oleg Orlov from Memorial, a human-rights group.
Muratov is on trial for “trying to discredit the Russian army.”
These charges are often brought against Russian citizens who dare to criticize the war in Ukraine, or who make public comments about crimes committed by Russian soldiers.
He’s Not Leaving…Yet
But despite his new status as a “foreign agent,” Muratov is standing his ground and remains in Russia.
Watching Every Move
As a condition of this standing, Muratov will now have to submit detailed accounts of his finances and activities to the Russian government every six weeks.
See You on the Other Side
If Muratov continues to stick it out, the world is likely in for some amazing and appalling stories on the other side of his latest ordeal.
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