“The powerful actively promote the idea of war. Aggressive marketing of war affects people and they start thinking that war is acceptable. In the heads of some geopolitical lunatics, a war between Russia and Ukraine is no longer something impossible. But, I know that wars end with the identification of the corpses of soldiers and the exchange of prisoners. Peace, progress, human rights – these three goals are insolubly linked to one another.” (Extracts from Nobel Lecture given by Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2021 Dmitry Muratov, Oslo, 10 December 2021).
“I am convinced that freedom of conscience, together with the other civic rights, provides the basis for progress. I defend the thesis of the decisive significance of civic and political rights in molding the destiny of mankind! I am convinced that international confidence, disarmament, and international security are inconceivable without an open society with freedom of information, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech. Peace, progress, human rights – these three goals are insolubly linked to one another.”
These words are a quote from the Nobel lecture of member of the Academy of Science Andrei Sakharov, a citizen of the world, a great thinker. His wife Elena Bonner read it out here, in this place, on Thursday, December 11, 1975. I felt an urge to repeat Sakharov’s words here, in this world-famous hall.
Why is it important today for us, for me? The world has fallen out of love for democracy anymore. The world has become disappointed with the power elite. The world has begun to turn to dictatorship.
We’ve got an illusion that progress can be achieved through technology and violence, not through human rights and freedoms. This is progress without freedom? It is as impossible as getting milk without having a cow.
The dictatorships have secured access to violence.
In our country (but not the only one) it is common to think that politicians who avoid bloodshed are weak. While threatening the world with war is the duty of true patriots. The powerful actively promote the idea of war. Aggressive marketing of war affects people and they start thinking that war is acceptable. Governments and their propaganda supporters are fully responsible for the militaristic rhetoric on state-owned television channels. Today’s ideologues promote the idea of dying for your country and not living for your country.
Stop the hawk squawk. Isn’t it a relevant ambition for politicians and journalists – to create a world without “killed in action” notes?
The events we see in the center of Europe, in the Eastern Ukraine have been extended by a game, which is now turning into bloodshed, initiated by the President of Belarus Lukashenko. His soldiers chase refugees who have come from the Middle East towards rows of guards armed with machine guns who protect the borders of the European Union. Both sides accuse one another, and the desperate people have literally come to a squeeze.
We are journalists, and our mission is clear – to distinguish between facts and fiction. The new generation of professional journalists knows how to work with big data and databases. By using these, we have found out whose airplanes are bringing refugees to the conflict area. The facts speak for themselves. The number of Belarusian flights from the Middle East to Minsk has more than quadrupled this autumn. Six flights in the period August-November 2020 and 27 in the same period this year. The Belarusian airline company brought 4,500 people to possible crossing of the border this year, and only 600 last year. The same number – 6,000 refugees – came with an Iraqi airline company.
This is how armed provocations and conflicts arise. We journalists have uncovered how it is all organized, our task is accomplished. Now it is up to the politicians.
The practice of torture in prisons and during investigation is also alive and well in today’s Russia. Abuse, rape, terrible living conditions, ban on visits, ban on calling your mother on her birthday, endless extension of custody. Seriously ill people are locked up and beaten in custody, sick children are held hostage, and they are pressured to plead guilty without any evidence against them.
Criminal cases in our country are often based on false accusations and political motives. Opposition politician Alexei Navalny is being held in jail based on a false accusation from the CEO of the Russian branch of a big French cosmetics company. The accuser was somehow not summoned to the court or neither pleaded to be an aggrieved party. But, Navalny is behind bars. The cosmetics company chose to step aside hoping that the odor from this case will not harm the scent of the company’s products.
We hear more and more often about torture of convicts and detainees. People are being tortured to breaking point, to make the prison sentence even more brutal. This is barbaric.
I am now presenting an initiative of setting up an international tribunal against torture, which will have the task to gather information on torture in different parts of the world and different countries, and to identify the executioners and the authorities involved in such crimes.
Of course, I shall rely first and foremost on investigative journalists around the world.
Torture must be recognized as the most serious crime against humanity.
Of course, we understand that the award today goes to the entire community of investigative journalists.
My colleagues have exposed money laundering schemes and ensured that billions of stolen rubles have been returned to the Treasury, they have revealed offshore accounts and stopped barbaric logging of Siberian forests.
There is a saying in Russian and English and other languages: “When the dogs bark, but the caravan keeps walking.” One explanation is that nothing can hinder the progress of a caravan. The government sometimes derisively says the same about journalists. They bark, but it does not affect anything.
But I was recently told that the saying has an opposite explanation. The caravan drives forward because the dogs bark. They growl and savage the predators in the mountains and the desert. The caravan can move forward only with the dogs around.
Yes, we growl and bite. Yes, we have sharp teeth and strong grip. We are the prerequisite for progress.
We are the antidote against tyranny.