Reporters Without Borders Awards Russian Journalists

Reporters Without Borders logoRussian journalists Mikhail Beketov and Olga Bobrova have been awarded the Press Freedom Award from the Austrian branch of Reporters Without Borders, RIA Novosti reports.

The awards ceremony was held at the House of the European Union in Vienna.

“The factors that determined the jury’s decision were distinct courage in investigative journalism, the democratic significance of the articles, and also Mikhail Beketov’s personal fate,” said Rubina Mering, president of the Austrian branch of the organization.

Thirty-five pieces of journalistic works from a dozen Russian regions were presented to the jury altogether, mostly from the printed media but also from radio and television programs.

The jury was made up of representatives from several international organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and UNESCO.

Mikhail Beketov, Editor-in-Chief of the opposition newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda, was an active opponent of a controversial highway construction project between Moscow and St. Petersburg through the Khimki Forest. In a 2008 interview on REN-TV, he accused Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko of setting his car on fire. The mayor sued him for slander, and although a court convicted Beketov last month, the sentence has since been overturned. Also in 2008, the journalist was severely beaten by two unknown assailants, leaving him wheelchair bound, unable to speak, and with three amputated fingers.

Olga Bobrova has been a journalist with the outspoken opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta since 2002. Following the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, Bobrova began to focus on the North Caucasus in her journalistic work. She has since continued to work in the critical tradition of Novaya Gazeta and its most well-known journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered four years ago.