The justice ministry deemed Muratov a “foreign agent” – a label it has used widely against its critics in an effort to silence dissent – on Friday, accusing him of using “foreign platforms to disseminate opinions aimed at forming a negative attitude toward the foreign and domestic policy of the Russian Federation.”
Novaya Gazeta was founded in 1993, after the crumbling of the Soviet Union, with partial funding from the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize award money of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet president. Known for its investigations into the Russian government, the paper has long been under significant pressure. Six of its journalists have been killed since 2000. For a time, it was one of the few independent outlets that continued publishing in Russia after President Putin effectively criminalized independent reporting on his war against Ukraine. Muratov suspended the newspaper’s operations in Russia after it received repeated warnings in March 2022, and some of its journalists formed an offshoot branch that operates out of Latvia.
Muratov, who remained in Russia, was attacked in April 2022 on a train in Moscow with red paint laced with acetone, suffering chemical burns to his eyes. US officials said that Russian intelligence operatives had orchestrated the attack. Muratov and Philippine journalist Maria Ressa were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for their “courageous fight for freedom of expression” in the face of crackdowns by authoritarian governments. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Muratov sold his medal at auction for $103.5 million and gave the proceeds to Unicef to help Ukrainian child refugees.
Journalists designated “foreign agents” must include a disclaimer about their status on every piece of work and are subject to greater official scrutiny and financial checks. NYT
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