The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Dmitry Muratov was a tribute to his journalism and his refusal to be cowed by attacks on free speech in Russia.
As a founder and editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, he has seen six of his journalists killed since 1993 while others face harassment, threats and violence.
But Nobel jurors said he had “defended freedom of speech in Russia” by refusing to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He shared the award with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa.
In a landscape dominated by pro-Kremlin media, Mr Muratov’s newspaper has published critical stories on Russian police brutality, election fraud, corruption and foreign and military interference.
Born in 1961 in what was then the Soviet Union, Mr Muratov set up his newspaper after the fall of the USSR opened the door for independent media.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was an early benefactor of Novaya Gazeta. He used some of his winnings from his own 1990 Nobel Peace Prize to help set up the newspaper and buy it some of its first computers.
But activists describe an increasingly repressive atmosphere in Russia during President Vladimir Putin’s long reign. Activists say 23 media workers were killed in the past decade.
The Nobel prize came a day after Novaya Gazeta marked 15 years since one of its best-known journalists, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot and killed.
Three years after that killing, contributor Natalia Estemirova was kidnapped in Chechnya and later found dead.
In 2018, a funeral wreath and severed animal’s head were delivered to the paper’s offices after it covered the shadowy Russian mercenaries operating in Asia and Africa.
Muratov’s previous awards include a Global Pen of Freedom in 2016 and an award in 2007 from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“I can’t take credit for this. This is Novaya Gazeta’s,” Muratov told Russian news agency Tass after his Nobel award. He dedicated it to “those who died defending the people’s right to freedom of speech”.
Despite its criticism of the Kremlin, Mr Putin’s office saluted Muratov on his Nobel prize. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the journalist as talented and courageous.
“We can congratulate Dmitry Muratov – he has consistently worked in accordance with his ideals,” Mr Peskov said.
Muratov said he would give some of his prize money to a foundation, Circle of Kindness, dedicated to children with rare illnesses.