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Russia calls Nobel Prize-winning journalist a ‘foreign agent’ – POLITICO

Dmitry Muratov, one of Russia’s best-known journalists, has been added to the country’s list of foreign agents, less than two years after the Kremlin praised his principled reporting that won him the Nobel Prize for peace.

Muratov, a former editor of the now-closed liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was included Friday evening in an update to the Russian Justice Ministry’s register of journalists, politicians and activists who Moscow says act on behalf of hostile states.

The foreign agent designation, which has been used repeatedly against critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and opponents of his war in Ukraine, means Muratov will have to follow strict rules when it comes to political activity. It also prohibits him from engaging in public life. Any mention of him in Russian media or social media must refer to his status.

According to Human Rights Watch, “in Russia, the term foreign agent is equivalent to a spy or traitor” and has been used “to defame and punish independent voices.”

The decision to accuse Muratov of being under undue influence from abroad flies in the face of the Russian state’s previous assessment of his journalism. After Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov offered his congratulations and said the longtime editor “constantly works according to his own values, is committed to these values, is talented and courageous”.

Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with American journalist Maria Ressa for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace”.

Since the start of its increasingly disastrous war in Ukraine, Russia has virtually eliminated the country’s independent media, imposing heavy penalties on those deemed to be “discrediting the Russian armed forces”.

Many Russian journalists have been forced to go abroad to continue their work. Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper was forced to cease operations in Russia in April 2022, weeks after the war began, and has since been forcibly shut down by the state, although it has continued to publish online .

Moscow has also arrested Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich since March 29 on charges of espionage, for which no evidence has been presented. US President Joe Biden called the arrest “completely illegal”, the first of an accredited correspondent on espionage allegations since the end of the Cold War.

In August, POLITICO journalist Eva Hartog was deported from Russia after being denied a visa extension.

Earlier this week, the Nobel Foundation came under fire from Swedish and Ukrainian politicians after deciding to invite Russian ambassadors to attend this year’s awards ceremony.


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