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Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov, winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, warned of the global advance of autocracies thanks to propaganda and denounced the “genocide” of independent media in Russia, where 269 newspapers have been closed and journalists are branded as “enemies of the people”.
Speaking at a UN conference in Vienna on the safety of journalists, Muratov said that “the word press on reporters’ vests” today is a factor that increases the likelihood of their death.
In response, the editor of the now-closed Novaya Gazeta, the most critical newspaper of the Kremlin since its founding in 1993, said that many of his Russian colleagues prefer to “take off their press vests” or go into exile to work abroad.
“The world is moving towards autocracy thanks to the space created by the enemy of independent journalism, propaganda,” Muratov told the conference attendees.
During his speech, the Nobel laureate also denounced the state of independent journalism in Russia, “practically eliminated”, and the millionaire funding that the state media receive to impose official propaganda on the invasion of Ukraine.
According to Muratov, Russia Today, “whose average budget is 469 million euros,” has incited “genocide” of the Ukrainian population.
As an example, he mentioned the intervention in a debate of one of the channel’s presenters, Anton Krasovsky, who called for drowning or burning alive Ukrainian children who refer to Russian troops as invaders.
The harassment of independent journalism is aimed at giving propaganda a monopoly on information in order to “pollute the minds” of Russians, he argued.
“A total of 269 independent media outlets have been eliminated in Russia, and more than 140 journalists have been accused of being enemies of the people or European agents,” the journalist added.
Finally, Muratov urged the United Nations to create a foundation to fund investigations of persecuted journalists.