Two Power-Challenged Journalists Win Nobel Peace Prize, China and Russia React Differently


【Japan Himalaya League】 Author: ZiChen (子辰) Translator: Ranting

Two investigative journalists from the Philippines and Russia have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, the Voice of America reported Oct. 8. The Nobel Committee said it awarded them the peace prize because of their contributions to upholding freedom of expression.

The two winners were Maria Ressa, CEO of the Philippine news site Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Ressa, 58, is the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been a journalist for 36 years and in 2012 founded Rappler Digital Media, a company known nationally for its investigative reporting. During the drug crackdown led by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Ressa had a long history of following and reporting on the crimes of “extrajudicial killings” by law enforcement police, which led to tensions with the government. He was arrested several times before being released on bail, and became known as the “Guardian of Truth” and a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2018.

In an article in the Financial Times last December, Ressa said, “I was arrested because I was a journalist for publishing true stories that the powers that be didn’t like, but that only helped me to open the shackles and help me understand what was going on so I could find a way forward.”

Another winner was Muratov, 59, becoming the first Russian to win the Nobel Peace Prize since former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. His newspaper dared to challenge the official position during the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, defying pressure and intimidation from the authorities, insisting on investigations into official misconduct and corruption, and providing extensive independent reporting on the truth about the conflict in Ukraine.

(Picture Source: Internet.)

For more than 20 years, Muratov’s office has been attacked several times and several journalists from the Novaya Gazeta have been killed. According to Reuters, during an interview with Muratov six years ago, the portraits of the six journalists who died were seen hanging on the walls in his office.

In announcing the names of the Peace Prize winners in Oslo, Nobel Committee Chairman Berit Reiss-Andersen said, “In today’s world, where democracy and press freedom face an increasingly hostile environment, these two men represent all journalists who dare to stand up for that ideal.” “Free, independent and fact-based journalism guards against abuses, lies and war propaganda,” he said.

It is worth noting that the Kremlin responded positively to Muratov’s award, congratulating him on receiving the Peace Prize for his efforts to protect freedom of expression. Putin’s spokesman Peskov told the media, “We congratulate him, he is talented and courageous.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s official response was extremely low-key, with media outlets essentially relaying a one-sentence news release from the China News Service, which was so simple that it didn’t even mention the contributions made by the two winners. The international edition of the Global Times also forwarded the news, but it was quickly blocked, and all you could see when you clicked on the site was the words “404” and “Sorry”.

In addition to the radically different response from Russia, the CCP’s control over speech is at its best. In addition to Liu Xiaobo, who was tortured to death, and Zhang Zhan, who is still in prison, countless journalists and netizens have been sentenced, disappeared, and silenced for speaking the truth. Just a day ago, Luo Changping, a well-known Chinese media figure, was criminally detained by police in Sanya, Hainan Province, on suspicion of “infringing on the honor and reputation of heroic martyrs” for posting a comment on Weibo about the “ice sculpture company” depicted in the recently released movie “The Battle at Lake Changjin” in mainland China.

Post Script: This article only represents the view of the author.

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Posted by: Ranting