Russian Nobel Medal for Ukrainian Children Sells for Over $100M

Dmitry Muratov, Russian editor of the independent investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, on Monday auctioned his Nobel Peace Prize medal for $103.5 million to help children displaced by conflict in Ukraine.

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Proceeds from the New York sale, won by an unnamed telephone bidder, will be donated to UNICEF’s program for Ukrainian children displaced by the war, according to Heritage Auctions, which is responsible for the sale.

When the final bid fell, tens of millions of dollars up on the previous one, the room was stunned, including Mr Muratov himself. “I’m like you in that regard,” he told AFP, speaking through a translator after the sale.

Responding to his choice of UNICEF as the recipient of the funds, he said: “It is important to us that this organization does not belong to any government. It can work through governments. There are no limits for them.”

Mr Muratov had won the prestigious award in 2021 alongside Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, with the committee honoring them “for their efforts to uphold freedom of expression”.

Newspaper Novaya Gazeta announced in late March that it was suspending its online and paper publications in Russia until the end of the intervention in Ukraine, amid the Kremlin’s hardening of dissonant voices.

Screenshot | Reuters

Dmitry Muratov was among a group of journalists who founded Novaya Gazeta in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Before it went out of business, the newspaper was the last to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Novaya Gazeta is particularly well known for its investigations into corruption and human rights abuses in Chechnya.

This commitment has claimed the lives of six of its associates since the 1990s, including famed journalist Anna Politkovskaïa, who was murdered in 2006. Dmitry Muratov dedicated his Nobel Prize to them.

“This newspaper is life-threatening,” he told AFP in 2021.

In a video posted by Heritage Auctions, the journalist says winning the Nobel Prize “gives you an opportunity to be heard”.

“The most important message today is that people understand that there is a conflict going on and that we need to help the people who are suffering the most,” he added, referring in particular to “children in refugee families.

In early April, Dmitry Muratov was attacked on a train in Russia by an unidentified person who sprayed him with a red mixture of oil paint and acetone, causing burns to his eyes.

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