Dmitry Muratov: Nobel Peace Prize winner and Putin critic ‘doused in paint during attack on Moscow train’

Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor Dmitry Muratov was attacked with red oil paint and acetone on a train for his criticism of president Vladimir Putin and his newspaper’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Mr Muratov, who is the editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, said a miscreant poured the paint with acetone all over his sleeping compartment on the train bound for the Samara city from Moscow on Thursday.

Pictures shared by the newspaper on social media showed him covered with red paint.

“My eyes are burning terribly,” Mr Muratov said after the incident, adding that the attacker shouted “Muratov, this is for our boys” at him, as per a Telegram post by the newspaper.

A face of Russian investigative journalism since the 1990s and known for being a vocal critic of the Kremlin, Mr Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize last year along with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa for fighting for the freedom of the press under challenging conditions.

Several activists have reported threatening messages painted on the doors of their apartments in the wake of Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

the Novaya Gazetaan independent investigative newspaper, had announced last week that it was suspending its online and print activities until the end of what Russia calls its “special operation” in Ukraine following mounting pressure from the state communications regulator.

The newspaper is no stranger to attacks. In 2018, a severed ram’s head was delivered to the paper’s central office, addressed to a journalist writing about Kremlin-connected mercenary groups.

In 2020, an assailant sprayed a chemical substance at the newspaper’s office doors.

Since the beginning of the war on 24 February, Moscow has launched a crackdown on liberal Russian media outlets, with most state-controlled organizations sticking closely to the language used by the Kremlin to report on the invasion.

Earlier in March, Russian lawmakers voted legislation into law that threatens to punish journalists with up to 15 years of jail term for publishing “fake news” on the invasion. The fierce censorship forced several western media, including the BBC and Bloomberg, to suspend operations in Russia.

In retaliation, the UK and its western allies sanctioned state-controlled Sputnik News, Russia Today and other prominent media entities for spreading “disinformation”.

Western social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have also been banned in Russia.

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, expressing “serious concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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