Fritt Ord Foundation – Press Release – 9 March 2015 – The 2015 Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation Press Prizes for Russia and Eastern Europe are being awarded to six courageous journalists and media outlets from Russia, Ukraine and Georgia that have not given in to the fear of censorship and reprisals.The winners are the weekly newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya and editor Galina Timchenko from Russia, the news agency Slidstvo.Info and the journalists Serhiy Harmash and Valentyna Samar from Ukraine, along with the online medium Netgazeti from Georgia. The Press Prizes, amounting to a total of EUR 75 000, will be awarded at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo on 24 June 2015.
„Journalists, bloggers and the media carry out their work in today’s Russia and Ukraine under extremely difficult circumstances, owing not least to the hateful exchanges between the countries. The official reports on the crisis in Ukraine are intentionally distorted by disinformation,” comments Martin Paulsen on behalf of the press prize jury. “Accordingly, in 2015, the press prizes established by the Fritt Ord Foundation and our German partner, the ZEIT Foundation, are being awarded to journalists and media that engage in independent reporting. Many of them carry out their work at great risk and have been forced to leave their homes to be able to maintain their independence. The prizes are intended to encourage, strengthen and emphasise the need for a free press.“
Slidstvo.Info, an agency for investigative journalism based in Kiev, will receive EUR 15 000. Their professional brand of investigative journalism has been conveyed through reports and TV programmes bearing the agency’s name. Among other things, they have reported on the oligarchs‘ control of Ukrainian gas resources and on widespread corruption, in addition to turning a critical spotlight on the currently unfolding military disaster. Slidstvo.Info was nominated by the Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
Serhiy Harmash (born in 1971) from Donetsk is a journalist and editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Ostro V. He will receive a prize of EUR 10 000. Ostro V is one of the most popular news platforms in East Ukraine. Serhij Harmasj is well-known for his astute political and economic analyses. He has made an impressive contribution to freedom of the press and information with his objective, critical reports from the crisis in Ukraine. Most of the journalists at Ostro V left Donetsk in 2014, including Harmasj. He was nominated by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Potsdam.
Valentyna Samar (born in 1965) from Crimea will receive a prize of EUR 10 000. She was forced to leave Crimea last year, fearing for her life. The Ukrainian journalist was nominated for the press prize by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Potsdam, because she does not hesitate to publish critical articles on political topics or to investigate corruption carried out by the state authorities in Ukraine. She has published a number of thought-provoking articles about the Ukrainian-Russian war.