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The Nobel Peace Prize 2021 — Global Issues

  • Opinion by Jan Lundius (Stockholm)
  • Inter Press Service

In 2000, Igor Domnikov, who in Novaya Gazeta wrote witty essays on corporate corruption, had his head smashed with a hammer at his apartment door. In 2001, Victor Popkov died after being injured in a shooting while he Novaya Gazeta in the name of reporting on the Chechen War. In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, human rights activist and Novaya Gazeta journalist, was in the elevator of his apartment building injured by two bullets at close range, to the chest and to the head. In 2009, a human rights lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, was shot dead as he left a press conference in Moscow, less than 800 meters from the Kremlin, while Anastasia Baburova, a journalist from Novaya Gazeta who tried to help him was also shot. In the same year, the Novaya Gazeta Journalist Natalia Estemitrova was seen screaming as she was forced into a car right outside her house in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Two hours later, she was found dead from a gunshot to the head and another to the chest.

Shchekochikin, Member of Parliament, was in Novaya Gazeta writing articles on criminal activities and corruption among FSB RF agents, Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the main successor agency to the KGB. Shchekochikin died suddenly on July 3, 2003 from a mysterious illness, days before his scheduled departure for the United States, where he was to meet with FBI agents investigating American contacts with Russian oligarchs and FSB agents. Shchekochikin’s medical records have been lost, although doctors who treated him explained that their patient’s symptoms indicated poisoning with “radioactive material”.

It was not the first time that the KGB / FSB had used radioactive substances to poison defectors and detractors. The first recorded incident took place in 1957 when Nikolai Khoklov was poisoned by radioactive agents Thallium-201, suffering from symptoms similar to those of Roman Tsepov, a corrupt businessman who in 2004 after drinking a cup of tea at a local FSB office suffered a sudden drop in white blood cells and died after two weeks. In 2006 Alexander Litvinenkov, a defector and former FSB agent died in London after being poisoned at the polonium-210. In 2018, another defector and former military intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, was in Salisbury with his daughter poisoned by a Novichok nervous agent and in 2020, anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a similar substance.

When Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, in Oslo received the Nobel Peace Prize 2021 he lamented Russian limitations on freedom of expression, adding that he was not the legitimate recipient of the prestigious award. More worthy men and women had lost their lives defending the truth: “It’s just that the Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded posthumously, it is awarded to living people. As a result, in his Nobel speech, Muratov stated that:

“… this award is for all true journalism. This prize is awarded to my colleagues from Novaya Gazeta, who lost their lives – Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekotschikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasija Baburova, Stas Markelov and Natasha Estemirova. This prize is also awarded to colleagues who are alive, to the professional community which fulfills its professional duty.

Filipino journalist Maria Angelita Ressa shared the Nobel Prize of Peace with Dmitri Muratov. The prize was awarded for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace”.

In her speech, Maria Ressa mentioned that “in the Philippines, more lawyers have been killed – at least 63 compared to the 22 journalists murdered after President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016”. Just the day before her Nobel speech, Maria Ressa’s colleague, Jesus “Jess” Malabanan, was killed on a street in Manila.

Rodrigo Duterte remains popular among the majority of the Filipino population. After his election victory in 2016, something called DuterteNomics was introduced, including tax reforms, infrastructure development, social protection programs, a shift to a federal system of government, and strengthened relations with China and Russia. The infrastructure initiative was promoted with the slogan: “Build! To construct! Build! “In 2021, 214 airport projects, 451 commercial, social and tourist port projects, 29,264 kilometers of roads, 5,950 bridges, 11,340 flood control projects, 11,340 evacuation centers and 150,149 classrooms were completed under the infrastructure program.

Despite this progress, Duterte has on some sides been harshly criticized for his obvious authoritarianism, self-aggrandizement and rampant populism, expressed through callous and vulgar rhetoric, for example his trivialization of rape and the murderous activities of vigilante groups. Duterte has repeatedly confirmed that he personally killed suspected criminals during his tenure as mayor of Davao and is the only Philippine president to refuse to disclose his assets and liabilities. In addition, it has by human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, has been directly linked to the extrajudicial killings of more than 1,400 suspected criminals and street children, while the International Criminal Court in The Hague is currently investigating his administration’s crackdown on narcotics, which has reportedly claimed as many as 30,000, while the administration has put the death toll at around 8,000.

Duterte’s image of being a willful, controversial but highly effective leader was actively supported by a submissive propaganda apparatus which, among other means, would be backed by a pro-Duterte online “troll army” that spreads fake news and manipulate the narrative around his presidency. Such misuse of the web has been lamented by both Markelov and Ressa, who pointed out that one of the main tasks of journalism is to distinguish between fact and fiction, which means that a journalist must investigate. patiently and objectively from as many angles as possible of a problem in general. . Markelov quoted famous war photographer Robert Capa: “If your shot isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Both Markelov and Ressa have said that the immense power of constantly and increasingly advanced communication technology is both beneficial and harmful to the defense of truth. It connects people from all over the world, helps share ideas and raise awareness of human rights violations. However, the web also spreads a virus of lies that incites us against each other, brings out our fears, anger and hatred, and sets the stage for the rise of authoritarians and dictators all over the world. Journalists must contradict this kind of hatred and violence, which Ressa is defined as:

“The toxic sludge that runs through our information ecosystem, prioritized by American internet companies making more money by spreading this hate and unleashing the worst in us.” What happens on social networks does not stay on social networks. Online violence is violence in the real world. Social media is a deadly game for power and money. Our personal experiences are drawn into a database, organized by Artificial Intelligence, then sold to the highest bidder. The highly profitable micro-targeting operations are designed to structurally undermine human will – a behavior modification system in which we are Pavlov’s dogs, experienced in real time with dire consequences in countries like mine, ”

Markelov said that much of the unfounded and manipulated information that is spreading its poison on the web has clouded our consciousness and worse, making people believe that:

“… Politicians who avoid bloodshed are weak. While threatening the world with violence and war is the duty of true patriots. The aggressive marketing of war affects people and they start to think war is okay.

In such a poisoned environment, journalists who speak the truth suffer. In many countries, they live under the real threat of being slandered and tortured, spending the rest of their lives in prison or being brutally murdered. They have no idea what the future holds for them. Nonetheless, these heroes of free speech assume their sacrifices are worth the risks they take. They believe in their mission to bring the truth to people and thus support empathy, peace and critical thinking. In Markelov’s words:

“Yes, we growl and bite. Yes, we have sharp teeth and strong grip. But we are the precondition for progress. We are the antidote to tyranny. I want journalists to die old.


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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service





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