Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 48

Novaya gazeta was among the recipients of Reporters Without Borders’ annual media freedom prizes, the Associated Press reported on December 12. The Paris-based media advocacy group awards the annual prizes jointly with the Fondation de France, a private foundation, to a journalist, a media outlet, a defender of press freedoms and a cyber dissident. Each receives $2,900. This year’s media prize went to Novaya gazeta, which Reporters Without Borders said, “is known for its investigations which regularly criticize the corruption of the Russian administration.” As the AP noted, the bi-weekly’s award-winning correspondent Anna Politkovskaya, whose work focused on Chechnya and the North Caucasus, was shot and killed in Moscow on October 7.

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin posthumously awarded Politkovskaya a medal on December 9, the day before International Human Rights Day. According to Interfax, Novaya gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitri Muratov received the medal for the slain journalist at the request of her relatives and the newspaper’s staff. Lukin said in a brief speech that over 40 criminal cases had been launched on the basis of Politkovskaya’s articles. “More efficient measures should be taken so that journalists dissenting with the government’s position can work freely,” Lukin said at the ceremony.

On December 7, the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) announced that it had named Politkovskaya as one of its World Press Freedom Heroes. “Politkovskaya’s nomination as our 51st World Press Freedom Hero is a tribute to her bravery, but also an acknowledgement of the struggles of the many courageous journalists working in Russia,” IPI Director Johann Fritz said in a press release. “Over 20 journalists have been killed in Russia since 2000; most were killed with impunity. Her murder is a shock and a loss. IPI believes that she made a significant contribution to journalism and to the cause of human rights. We pay respect to her courage and her exceptional determination, and call on the Russian authorities to ensure that there is a thorough investigation into her murder.”

Sergei Kovalev, the veteran human rights campaigner who chairs the Memorial Society, was awarded France’s Legion of Honor in a ceremony held at the French Embassy in Moscow on December 11, Itar-Tass reported. President Vladimir Putin received the same award on September 22. On October 20, in the wake of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder, Reporters Without Borders called on the French government to strip Putin of the award.

The Moscow city authorities, meanwhile, denied permission for a march commemorating murdered Russian journalists that was scheduled to take place on December 17, MosNews reported on December 12. The organizers of the march – a group of Moscow-based journalists – told Ekho Moskvy radio that the march was meant to be a “civil action” to pay tribute to journalists killed while doing their job or expressing their opinion. City officials said the action would disrupt car traffic and hinder access to certain locations in the city center for ordinary residents who would not participate in the procession, thus violating their constitutional rights.