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Moscow court fines Nobel Prize winner Dmitry Muratov and Novaya Gazeta for ‘abusing media freedom’

Source: Mediazona

A Moscow court handed down six fines totaling 132,000 rubles ($1,820) to Novaya Gazeta and its editor-in-chief, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, for allegedly failing to disclose the status of “foreign agents” mentioned in the newspaper’s articles. 

In total, six administrative protocols were drawn up against the publication and its editor-in-chief under section 2.1 of Administrative Code Article 13.15 — abusing freedom of mass information. This article provides fines ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 ($28–$35) rubles for individuals, and 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($550–$690) for legal entities.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court rendered decisions on all six protocols last Thursday, November 11. Novaya Gazeta’s legal department told the Telegram channel ChTD that the protocols were drawn up over articles about Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and the Doctors’ Alliance, a labor union that cut ties with Navalny’s team in September. 

Novaya Gazeta wasn’t notified about the court hearing; it took place without any of the newspaper’s representatives present.

The Basmanny Court’s press service told Mediazona on Wednesday, November 17, that Muratov was fined 12,000 rubles ($166) and the newspaper — 120,000 rubles ($1,655). Novaya Gazeta has yet to confirm the exact total of the fines.

Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov was awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Maria Ressa, the CEO of the Philippine news outlet Rappler. This provoked worries that the Russian authorities would use the prize money as a pretense for blacklisting Novaya Gazeta as “foreign agent.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin later stated that the Nobel Prize wouldn’t “shield” Muratov, underscoring that the laureate could indeed be labeled a “foreign agent” if he breaks the law.

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