Sunday, October 24

At first, Putin’s congratulations surprised. Then came the criticism from unexpected places.

Many believe that another Russian had more deserved this year’s peace prize.

Alexei Navalny turned Russia upside down this winter. Many believe that he was a more worthy award winner. Including this year’s winner himself.

Dmitry Muratov has been the editor-in-chief of the regime’s critical newspaper Novaya Gazeta for decades. Now the Russian receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight.

The Peace Prize comes in what is called a destiny age for Russian journalism. It’s long been the case that if you don’t have a large audience, you can say almost anything you want. But not anymore. Several independent media are now on a “foreign agent” list.

Muratov himself has fought a tough battle for independent journalism. Six of the newspaper’s journalists have been killed.

Thus, one would think that the peace prize of a pioneer of the press like Dmitry Muratov fell on good ground with the opposition Russia. But the Russian authorities were among the first to congratulate:

“We congratulate Dmitry Muratov,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.

Shared atmosphere

Natalija Vasilyeva is a correspondent for The Telegraph in Russia. She is one of several who signal a harmonious mood in Muratov’s home country:

Russian independent media are constantly threatened with closure. But it is the editor of an established newspaper that is not threatened with closure who receives the award.

Alexander Etkind is history professor affiliated with Harvard and Cambridge University. He writes on Twitter that he is happy that Muratov received the award.. But he’s disappointed that he was chosen before someone else.

Because there is a name that appears among various liberal opposition parties in Russia after the Peace Prize was announced:

Alexei Navalny.

Put Russia on your head

Navalny has been an opposition politician in Russia for many years. But it was only when he was seriously poisoned a year ago that he became really famous. The opposition leader floated for a long time between death and life in a Berlin hospital. But he still chose to return to Russia, even though he knew he would be imprisoned. He was also then, already at passport control.

It triggered the biggest wave of protests Russia has seen in many years. And the biggest witch hunt against the opposition in the equivalent of many years.

Ruslan Shaveddinov of Navalny’s team believes that the peace prize could have gone to someone who survived the poisoning and is now in prison.

Navalny was mentioned as one of the many candidates for the Peace Prize. But it’s not just that his fans believe he was the right winner. It is also about the fact that it was precisely Dmitry Muratov who succeeded.

Powerful supporter

There are two main reasons why Novaya Gazeta has been allowed to survive despite its critical journalism:

1. They still have the mighty Mikhail Gorbachev and his foundation behind them. Gorbachev was general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party from 1985 to 1990. He was then the first and only president of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. He himself received the Peace Prize in 1990 and is a personal friend of Muratov.

2. The newspaper gives the Russian regime a democratic alibi. If someone pointed out that there is no freedom of expression in Russia, the authorities could point to Novaya Gazeta.

– The fact that Peskov congratulated probably means that the Kremlin has decided to accept the award. A sharp negative reaction to the price is unlikely, says Inna Sangadzhieva. She is a senior advisor to the Helsinki Committee of Norway.

I do not agree with the strategy

In addition, Muratov has joined in the criticism of the Navalny organization’s strategy.

In recent years, the organization has developed a Smart Stem campaign. This is a campaign in which Russian voters are asked to vote for the candidate who is in the best position to beat the United Russia candidate. United Russia is only called Putin’s party, although he is not running for office.

The campaign has shaken Putin’s party. But it has also led to many who might have voted for the liberal Jabloko party, rather than voting for a candidate in a better position. Muratov himself has run for Jabloko.

The conflict has escalated in recent weeks Peace Prize Winner and Navalny Chief of Staff Leonid Volkov. The latter came with one sarcastic comment on Twitter when the Peace Prize was announced.

Despite the conflict, several Navalny staff members have also welcomed the peace prize.

And the same winner, Muratov, was a clear favorite for the Peace Prize:

Alexei Navalny.

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