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Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, the winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, called Thursday for “an unconditional ceasefire and a truce” and said that “there is a real threat of a nuclear war” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There is a real threat of a nuclear war,” Muratov said during a videoconference appearance at the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.
The editor of the independent newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” recalled that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday that “the third world war would be a nuclear war, and I imagine he was alluding to what is happening in Central Europe.”
At this moment, he considered that “the greatest danger” is “the possibility, the threat of a nuclear response that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin already indicated when he said that if the United States intervened, the response it would give is something that had never been seen in history.”
“This all seems like a nightmare, but I do not exclude the possibility that at a given moment, they will be tempted to press the red button,” he said.
Muratov explained that on Wednesday he visited former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev on his 91st birthday in a hospital, where he is staying because of his health problems.
“And he flatly rejects the possibility of a nuclear war. However, I don’t know who our authorities are going to listen to. They are only going to listen to one person,” he said.
The Nobel laureate noted that “nobody ever imagined that Russia would come to attack Ukraine and that Russian planes would bomb Kyiv and destroy Kharkiv, and that Russian forces would enter the country (…) But unfortunately it is the harsh reality,” he said.
He also recalled that “there have been repeated threats of the use of nuclear force, nuclear missiles, different types of nuclear weapons” and that “they have been repeating it for years, this is now commonplace for the authorities.”
The journalist evoked that, in the Russian Federal Assembly, which brings together the lower and upper Houses, “an interesting video was recently presented on how missiles were launched against the United States.”
“Now, considering the possibility of a nuclear war is becoming very commonplace. It’s being talked about on broadcasters, on TV channels. And to me this seems extremely worrisome,” he asserted.
Muratov regretted the closure of independent media in Russia, such as the Echo of Moscow radio station on Wednesday, and encouraged the population to look for other means of information on the Internet apart from the official ones.
He assured that the Russian people are overwhelmingly against this war, and that the current Parliament “does not represent it.”
“Please do not mix Russians with their leaders, who are the ones who have initiated this atrocity. The future of our children has been cut off with this war,” he lamented.
“I am in contact with various people, including those in the circles of the elites, and the elites are monolithic, they are very consolidated,” he explained, in response to whether Putin can find opposition in his closest circles.
According to the journalist, “the cement that binds them is that they cannot leave, they cannot leave the country. They are going to have to live in Russia, and in Russia, they are going to have a president for the rest of history, for all eternity. And therefore they cannot express their opinions, because they are afraid. It is difficult,” he concluded.
Muratov called for “an unconditional ceasefire and a truce, that’s what the talks should focus on. To avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, to save innocent civilians,” as well as to create “humanitarian corridors, access to the wounded, prisoner exchanges, and that those who have died in the fighting can be buried.”
Muratov, 60, was in 1993 one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, “an important source of information on objectionable aspects of Russian society that are rarely mentioned by other media,” according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.