VARIOUS FILE: Leading liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy which often criticises the Kremlin and other Russian...
- Title: VARIOUS FILE: Leading liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy which often criticises the Kremlin and other Russian authorities is a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize
- Date: 11th October 2012
- Summary: OSLO, NORWAY (RECENT - OCTOBER 2, 2012) (REUTERS). PEACE RESEARCH INSTITUTE OSLO (PRIO) DIRECTOR, KRISTIAN BERG HARPVIKEN, IN FRONT OF COMPUTER. PRIO BANNER (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRIO DIRECTOR, KRISTIAN BERG HARPVIKEN, SAYING: "Radio Ekho Moscow is one of the most important free media outlets in Russia. It has been able to keep its door open and it has been on the waves continuously for a number of years now - pursues critical investigative journalism." HARPVIKEN BEING INTERVIEWED.
- Reuters ID: LVA2C6Y8VHQIPKMZD1B8IBN063C6
- Location: Norway, Russian Federation
- Country: Russian Federation Norway
- Duration: 00:00:33
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: Communications,International Relations,Politics
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, founded in August 1990 by a group of journalists in the former Soviet Union, is a contender for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
The radio station became popular in the Gorbachev Glasnost-era for its Kremlin-criticism, and still regularly rebukes the authorities.
Charismatic editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said he and his colleagues were surprised to be considered for the Prize.
"As one of my deputies suggested, perhaps Putin has nominated us, as many people think we are a pro-Putin radio station. In fact the state authorities should react to our professional activity, to our criticism, but not to the prizes and awards we are being bestowed upon by the international or professional community," he told Reuters last week.
Venediktov said the Russian media is coming under increasing pressure.
"I think that the pressure on the media has grown this year in connection with the pressure on the Internet in Russia, and we see how the State Duma is rapidly adopting laws which restrict the distribution of information, the freedom to speak, under quite convenient pretexts like protection of children against this and that, but in fact the pressure on distribution of and access to information is getting stronger. That's why I think the Nobel Committee has taken into account our uncompromised approach to the protection of free distribution of information as it was nominating us, or better to say, putting us on the long list," he said.
Venediktov said listeners received a range of opinions and information from his radio station.
"Normal people don't want to listen to just one radio station belonging to some party or to read one party newspaper, or to watch one party TV channel - they want to get everything - I mean normal people. So our normal listeners get on Ekho Moskvy everything, and that is why this award should be shared with them," he said.
While Ekho Moskvy has come under pressure from the authorities many times over the years, there has not been a direct attempt to close it.
State gas giant Gazprom's media arm, Gazprom-Media, owns 66 percent of the radio station's shares.
In February 2012 Gazprom-Media demanded the removal of several board members, including Venediktov.
In a statement, Ekho Moskvy called this "unjust", blaming it on Gazprom-Media's need to "respond to criticism from the Russian Federation's top officials."
With Venediktov, his deputy Vladimir Varfolomeyev and two other independent members forced to leave the board, none of the station's journalists are now represented.
Russia's leading nation-wide news channels and many print media all came either directly or indirectly under state ownership during Putin's previous presidency. Reporters at these outlets say they risk being summarily sacked if the don't follow the rules.
But Ekho Moskvy has become a standard bearer for a growing number of independent online media and satellite television stations in recent months.
In January, at a meeting with various media editors, Putin accused the station of "pouring shit" over him with insults from "dawn to dusk".
"I think that it was on your site that one citizen said and wrote that "only cattle vote for Putin, but I did not read his article". What kind of discussion is it then? What kind of attitude towards the majority of our population? What is this? What can you discuss with a person who believes that the majority - and the majority have up till now voted for me - is cattle, but he does not even want to read the article?" he said.
Oslo's Peace Research Institute (PRIO) is tipping Ekho Moskvy as one of the favourites to win the 2012 Prize.
"Radio Ekho Moscow is one of the most important free media outlets in Russia. It has been able to keep its door open and it has been on the waves continuously for a number of years now - pursues critical investigative journalism," said director, Kristian Berg Harpviken.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on Friday (October 12).
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- Embargoed:26th October 2012 13:00