Journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov win Nobel Peace Prize The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia.

The Nobel Peace Prize goes to journalists in the Philippines and Russia

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This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to two journalists, both with reputations for standing up to authoritarian regimes. Maria Ressa is the co-founder of the digital news site Rappler in the Philippines. Dmitri Muratov is the longtime editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta in Moscow. We're going to hear more about both these Nobel laureates now in a moment from our Southeast Asia correspondent Julie McCarthy. First, here's NPR's Charles Maynes in Moscow.

CHARLES MAYNES, BYLINE: In announcing the award for Dimitri Muratov, Nobel's committee chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen, cited his newspaper's years of investigations and critical reporting on politics, corruption and human rights.


BERIT REISS-ANDERSEN: Novaya Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power.

MAYNES: Muratov was among a group of journalists who founded the paper in the early 1990s, reflecting a push for newfound freedoms in post-Soviet Russia. But the newspaper came to pay a heavy price for holding truth to power. Six of its reporters have been killed in connection with their work, including the murder of star journalist Anna Politkovskaya in her Moscow apartment building in 2006.


MAYNES: Speaking to a scrum of media and supporters outside Novaya Gazeta's office in Moscow, Muratov dedicated the prize in their memory.

DMITRY MURATOV: (Speaking Russian).

MAYNES: This is first and foremost an acknowledgement of our fallen colleagues, said Muratov, who also praised a new generation of Novaya Gazeta reporters who followed in their wake. The Nobel Committee's recognition comes as a growing number of Russian journalists and media outlets have been labeled foreign agents by the government, a move widely seen as an attempt to silence independent voices.

MURATOV: (Speaking Russian).

MAYNES: Muratov vowed to support other Russian independent media, but admitted even he wasn't clear if Novaya Gazeta would run afoul of the government for accepting the Nobel Prize money.


MAYNES: The Kremlin congratulated Muratov on his prize, even as the Justice Ministry was announcing it had made new additions to its list of journalists it labels foreign agents. Among them, Yelena Solovyova.

YELENA SOLOVYOVA: (Speaking Russian).

MAYNES: An independent journalist based in Syktyvkar in the Russian Arctic, Solovyova says she's thrilled for Muratov, but also worried for the future.

SOLOVYOVA: (Speaking Russian).

MAYNES: She also sees this year's Nobel Prize as belonging to all Russian journalists trying to tell the truth about their country. Charles Maynes, NPR News, Moscow.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: And I'm Julie McCarthy, NPR's Southeast Asia correspondent. The Nobel committee called Maria Ressa a fearless defender of freedom of expression. The digital media company she co-founded, Rappler, is one of the few Philippine-based media outlets to critically report on the government of President Rodrigo Duterte - notably, his signature anti-drug war. Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen.


REISS-ANDERSEN: Rappler has focused critical attention to Duterte regime's controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country's own population.

MCCARTHY: The Nobel Committee said Ressa and Rappler also have documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse, and that work safeguarding freedom of expression is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ressa expressed shock at the honor, but told the BBC the committee had recognized that nothing is possible without facts.


MARIA RESSA: When you don't have facts, you don't have truth. You don't have trust. Trust is what holds us together to be able to solve the complex problems our world is facing today.

MCCARTHY: The committee said the two Nobel winners represent all journalists who stand up for free expression in a world where democracy and free speech are under fire. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 294 of them have been murdered in the last decade, 17 journalists in the Philippines, 23 in Russia. Ressa herself has been arrested numerous times on alleged tax evasion. The National Union of Journalists' Jonathan de Santos says the Nobel Prize removes any doubt that her detentions had been a bid to silence free expression, and says it is a victory for the Philippines.

JONATHAN DE SANTOS: It's about time, really, for us to not just be recognized, but to push back. I guess, in that sense, we're all winners in a way.

MCCARTHY: Julie McCarthy, NPR News.

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