Muratov’s Speech to the IPI World Congress


Editor-in-Chief, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow

Delivered at the Opening Ceremony of the IPI World Congress and 58th General Assembly upon being awarded the ‘IPI Free Media Pioneer 2009’

7 June 2009

 This morning by the way, the shareholder of our newspaper, Mr Gorbachev called me.  And Mr Gorbachev asked me to transfer best greetings to all of you.  And I asked him back, Mr Gorbachev what do you think would be appropriate to say in the speech today.  Mr Gorbachev replied that unfortunately you know yourself the answer to this question.

We are aware that this award is a tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, to Yuri Shchekochikhin, to Igor Domnikov, to Anastasia Baburova and to Stanislav Markelov.  And this will be placed in our newspaper in front of their photos.

And I would like all of us to first of all along with the award pay a minute of silence to these and to all others who are not with us today.

 Thank you.  That was, I’m sure, the minute of greatest content and importance in today’s speech.

There is a question we think of quite often about in our newspaper: should we print a newspaper which actually bares a threat and a risk to our journalists?  But I’m sure that the information collected and covered by our journalists gives a lot of hope to almost one million of our readers, to many Russians that democratic values are still there in Russia.

We think that a newspaper is a service provider, a service provided to fair people.  Because I don’t want the world to think my country is the country where the gene of Stalin will live forever.  There is a question why today in official text books in Russia, on a number of official sites, including the site of the Ministry of Defence of Russia, Mr Stalin is called an ‘efficient state manager’.  An efficient manager – what they would like to say that efficiency in management is the same as violence. Why would the ruling elite to do that in Russia (although it is difficult to describe these people as the ‘elite’)?  What they mean to say probably, and what they try to make us believe, is that the state, the government, is the supreme value of our life, the sun, the god.  And corruption is the special profession attached to this god.  In all, what they want is they want to rule as Stalin did and to live as Mr Abramovich does. 

But our newspaper has got a job to do: to monitor this government, this authority for the sake and for the good of the people.

I would just like to end by saying that we would all like to see Russia as a democracy, and we will prevail.

Anna Politkovskaya never saw her granddaughter.  Her granddaughter was born four months later after Anna had been killed.  And her granddaughter now bares two names, a double name.  If you have heard about it, you will now learn how important that is.  She was called, Anna Politkovskaya’s granddaughter was called, Anna Victoria.

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