Two Russian journalists have been honored by Human Rights Watch with Hellman/Hammett Grants for standing up for democracy at enormous personal risk. We congratulate these two magnificent Russian patriots:
Natalia Morari (Russia) is an investigative journalist who writes about corruption and money laundering for the Moscow-based newspaper The New Times. In December 2007, when she was returning from an assignment in Israel, she was barred from entering Russia, held overnight at the airport, and deported to Moldova, her home country. Two weeks later, she was told that she was considered a threat to national security and would no longer be allowed to enter Russia. In February 2008, Morari married Ilya Barabanov, a Russian citizen who is also an investigative journalist at The New Times. When they attempted to visit Russia together as husband and wife, Morari was still refused entry.
Alikhan Kureishevich Timurziev (Russia) covered events in Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Chechnya as a reporter and then deputy editor of the newspaper Ingushetiya, often writing about corruption and human rights abuses. He also worked with the award-winning Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was later assassinated, arranging meetings and accompanying her on reporting trips. This prompted local police to start monitoring him. Local authorities tried to bribe him into publishing an article smearing international nongovernmental organizations working in the Caucuses. After he refused, unidentified men abducted him, beat him, and left him in a field. He reported the attack to the local prosecutor’s office, but the case was not pursued. Harassment continued; then Timurziev came down with a mysterious disease, leaving him comatose for weeks and causing him to lose most of his teeth and hair. In 2007, he went into hiding and then fled to Poland. For the past 2½ years, he has been living in a refugee camp in Poland waiting for action on an asylum application.