Novaya Gazeta editor: Nuclear response in Russian aggression is real threat

Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov addresses EP subcommittee on human rights

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov
Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov, has warned of the threat of nuclear war in the wake of Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine.

“The real danger for me is the absolute reality of a nuclear response. I do not exclude or rule out the temptation of our leaders to push the red button,” Muratov, whose newspaper has resisted supression from the Putin regime for many years, told a European Parliament sub-committee on human rights via remote link.

Novaya Gazeta employed the slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya. “The EU and the international community can help by immediately calling for a truce and ceasefire. Bury the dead, take care of the wounded, exchange the prisoners,” Muratov said.

Muratov told the EP hearing that Russian people were not for the war, citing surveys showing 70% of respondents who did not support the war. “But they also say 70% support Putin... so this is impossible,” Muratov said. “Despite the mad propaganda, most people are against the war.”

He said many Russians have Ukrainian connections, roots and links to the country. “The realisation of many mothers of the babies who have just been born, or whose children are of conscription age, that they would have to go off in military vehicles to fight just because someone gave this order,” was a reason for the unpopularity of the war, Muratov added.

He said that members of the Russian Orthodox church were also speaking out against the aggression. “Many priests are close to their parishes, close to their people. They listen to their woes. In one parish they have already conducted a mass for the soldiers who have been killed. And they are not protected by the Kremlin...”

Muratov was asked by French MEP Bernard Guetta (Renew), who chaired the session, whether he feared he would have to close his newspaper down in the face of increased repression in Russia.

Muratov said radio station ‘The Echo of Moscow’ had been shut down by oligarchs after being on the air for 32 years, describing the station as “a systemic and fundamental value for our nation”.

Muratov appeared furiously restrained as he described how “three clerks... three creatures decided to shut this down. It took them just 15 minutes to shut this radio station down, they didn’t even invite the editor... it’s a junta.”

The radio station was against the Russian war as is Muratov’s own paper Novaya Gazeta. “I am certain that this is the main reason it was shut down... At this moment any statement against the war is treated as a crime against the state.”

Echo of Moscow was charged by the Russian prosecutor general’s office with “posting of information with calls for extremist activity, violence, as well as deliberately false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation to protect the DPR and LPR.”

Muratov insisted that despite the propaganda cycle, people in Russia were against this war. “They do not want this, and our children have been deprived of a future by this war.”

“There is another Russia besides what you see.... the elite here are monolithic, they have never been as consolidated as they are now. And they can’t go anywhere else. In Russia they will have one president for the rest of history – so they cannot speak out. This is not sustainable.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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