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A ‘Noble’ Cause, Indeed

Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov (b. October 29, 1961), the Russian journalist, television presenter and the Editor-in-Chief of the Novaya Gazeta daily, who was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Filipino-American Journalist Maria Ressa for “their efforts to safeguard Freedom of Expression that is a precondition for Democracy and lasting peace”, auctioned off his gold medal Nobel Prize for the record amount of USD 103.5 million in New York on June 20, 2022. Later, the veteran journalist announced that he would spend the money to help Ukrainian child refugees. He also donated the accompanying USD 500,000 cash award to charity.

The Vladimir Putin Administration shut down Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta in March 2022 for covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In April, the Russian Nobel Peace laureate was attacked on a train with red paint. It may be noted that Muratov had dedicated the Nobel Prize to six of his colleagues who had been killed while covering news in Russia since 2000. At that period of time, he also distributed the prize money among various charitable organisations.

Reuters reported that Muratov managed to raise USD 103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel. In 2014, the highest ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was USD 4.76 million, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of DNA earned him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, which handled the auction, refused to disclose the identity of the buyer. Later, Muratov said: “I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity, but I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount.

Speaking at a press conference after the auction in New York, Muratov said that he would send the money directly to UNICEF that was helping children displaced by the war in Ukraine. He strongly condemned Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing war launched on February 24, 2022. The Russian invasion has already prompted nearly five million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for safety, thus creating the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War.

Although the prominent journalist admitted that winning the Nobel had given him an opportunity “to be heard“, he claimed that it became important to do something for the children in distress. “The most important message today is for people to understand that there’s a war going on and we need to help people who are suffering the most,” stressed Muratov.

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