Muratov at SCSU “I will not humiliate myself with hope.”  

by Stanley Heller


Sept. 9  Dmitry Muratov sold his Nobel peace prize medallion for $103 million and gave it all for UNICEF to help Ukrainian and other refugees. That’s just Wow.  He’s a man who’s left his country and would no doubt be imprisoned or killed if he returned.  I assume he’s short on funds, but he made that amazing gesture for Ukraine.

He spoke at Southern Connecticut State University on September 9th. Muratov is editor of Novaya Gazeta, New Gazette, He was a newspaper correspondent in the war zone of the First Chechen War. In 1995, he became the head of the editorial board.  The Nobel Committee specifically commended Novaya Gazeta's "critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ‘troll factories’” and Russian military action.  During Muratov's time at the Novaya Gazeta, seven of its journalists were killed This year his paper was shut down by Putin.

Muratov reestablished the paper in Estonia.  You can read it here.

Muratov began his talk with some 20 minutes about his close friend Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who died just this month. He spoke in Russian and his words were translated. Muratov said he knew Gorbachev for 32 years and that Gorbachev was one of the people whose money helped create Novaya Gazeta.   He displayed two photos, one a professional one of Gorbachev and one that Muratov took with Gorbachev’s famous birthmark. Muratov said Gorbachev hated war and did all he could to end the Soviet Afghanistan invasion. [Muratov didn’t talk about charges that Gorbachev unjustly used violence against breakaway groups within the Soviet Union.]

A touching story was told by Muratov about Gorbachev’s wife Raisa.  As she was dying she remembered her wedding day when Mikhail had enough money to buy a suit but had to borrow shoes.  She asked her husband, “Did we ever return those shoes?”

Muratov painted a grim picture of Russia.  He said 300 media outlets have been shut and 138,000 websites blocked.  Journalists are designated “foreign agents” by the government. He talked about his own paper and held up a picture of Anna Politkovskaya, one of his journalists who was murdered. Muratov said her house was burned down several weeks ago.  The Putin’s regime wants no memory of her.  He called for a foundation to be created in her name. 

He talked about what’s being printed or talked about in official media including the incredible idea that nuclear war might not be so bad.  Muratov said that “media genocide has been accomplished”.

Muratov brought up the case imprisoned WNBA basketball star Brittany Griner.  He said that at her arrest for carrying a miniscule amount of a marijuana substance the arrest documents had already been typed out!  A video of the search of her bag in customs went out to YouTube immediately.  He said video coming out from a secured government site like that is unheard of. He called the arrest was a government “operation”.

The audience at Southern’s Lyman Auditorium was completely appreciative.  There must have been a large Russian or Ukrainian component because there were many laughing or murmuring at points before the translation had taken place.

There was a brief Q and A after the event.  A question was asked of Muratov, “Are you hopeful”.  In answer he quoted a colleague who once said, “I will not humiliate myself with hope.”