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Fritt Ord Foundation Press Prizes for 2013

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Elena Kostyuchenko

Fritt Ord Foundation Press Prizes for 2013 go to two journalists and a weekly newspaper from Russia, a journalist from Ukraine, and a journalist and photojournalist from Azerbaijan

Press Release, 6 March 2013

The Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT Foundation Press Prizes for 2013 go to the Russian journalists Elena Kostyuchenko (Moscow) and Alexander Golts (Moscow), to the Russian weekly newspaper Yakutsk Vecherniy (Jakutsk), to the Ukrainian journalist Sergey Leschenko (Kiev), and to the journalist Tahmina Tagizade (Ganja) and photojournalist Mehman Huseynov (Baku) from Azerbaijan. The Press Prizes collectively amount to EUR 70 000.

The Press Prizes for 2013 – The Fritt Ord Foundation Press Prize 'Free Press of Russia' and the Gerd Bucerius Prize 'Free Press of Eastern Europe' will be bestowed at an award ceremony to be held at the Norwegian Nobel Institute on Thursday, 20 June 2013.



Russia

Elena Kostyuchenko (1987) is one of the most talented younger investigative journalists in Russia. She has worked for Novaya Gazeta (http://en.novayagazeta.ru/) since she was 17 years old, and she also has her own blog. She covers an impressive variety of topics, ranging from the case of Mikhail Beketov and the Khimki Forest to the massacre at Kushchevskaya. She writes about the lives of prostitutes who work along the main thoroughfares and about neglected hospitals. She is a champion of gay rights. Kostyuchenko was the first journalist to write about the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. By covering cases that draw attention to the link between organised crime and corrupt authorities, she moves through dangerous territory. She has been both assaulted and arrested for her journalistic activities. Elena Kostyuchenko was nominated by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo, as well as by Ilja Krieger, editor, Corpus Publishing House, Moscow.



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Alexander Golts
Alexander Golts (1955) is a political commentator and acting editor-in-chief of the critical online newspaper Ezhenedelny Zhurnal (http://www.ej.ru/). He is an outstanding communicator on issues involving armament and the armed forces, which is sensitive terrain for a journalist to navigate in Russia. Despite years of resistance and attacks, Golts has continued to abide by the principle of remaining faithful to the facts. His strength lies in his level-headed analytical presentations. Golts' deeply appreciated articles about the evolution of Russian domestic and foreign policy are available in English in the Moscow Times (at http://www.themoscowtimes.com/). Alexander Golts was nominated by Klaus-Helge Donath, a Russia correspondent for taz.

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The editorial staff of Yakutsk Vecherniy
The weekly newspaper Yakutsk Vecherniy (http://www.vecherniy.com/) has been published since 1994 in the Yakutsk region of northern Siberia. Under the leadership of Editor-in-chief Maria Ivanova, the bold, voluminous regional newspaper covers both environmental destruction and corruption. In the winter of 2011/2012, the newspaper sent its own correspondent to Moscow to cover the demonstrations in the capital city. Before that, the newspaper opposed raising a memorial to Stalin. In 2005, the weekly newspaper sued the city administration for overly hard taxation of the citizenry. The newspaper is embroiled in several court cases, and its journalists are used to State agencies' attempts to control them. Yakutsk Vecherniy was nominated by Moritz Gathmann in Moscow.





Ukraine

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Sergey Leschenko
Sergey Leschenko (1980) from Kiev is one of the best investigative journalists in Ukraine. He writes for the online newspaper Ukrainska Prawda (http://www.pravda.com.ua/), where he is also the acting editor. Leschenko is one of the most active bloggers in the same newspaper. He files detailed reports on matters such as corruption among the power elite. In connection with the preparations for the soccer world championships in 2012, he wrote a number of critical articles about who got awarded contracts and what they earned on them. As a journalist, he is impartial, giving precedence to objective descriptions. He has a firm grasp of the political situation in Ukraine, and maintains the necessary distance from both the government and the opposition. Sergey Leschenko was nominated by Heike Dörrenbächer, head of Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde in Berlin.





Azerbaijan

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Tahmina Tagizade
Tahmina Tagizade (1982) is above all active as an independent, experienced journalist in the provincial town of Ganja and the surrounding region in northern Azerbaijan. She has championed the rights of the general public, often at great cost to her personally. Despite reprisals on the part of a conservative, authoritarian administration, Tagizade continues tirelessly in the pursuit of her journalistic activities. She has her own blog (tahminatagizade.wordpress.com), on which she stands out as a prudent commentator and observer. For years, she has been a coordinator, journalist and editor at the Ganja Media Centre. She is currently working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani service, Radio Azadliq, as a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow, a prize awarded by RFE/RL in conjunction with the Czech government, and for the website civil-forum.az where she is also video editor. Tahmina Tagizade was nominated by the German Embassy in Baku.

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Mehman Huseynov
Mehman Huseynov (1990) is a photojournalist, and his expressive photos and videos depict different aspects of Azerbaijan. His photojournalism often documents abuses of human rights. His documentation of the demolition of homes in connection with the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in 2012 was deeply appreciated by the public, but also caused him to be detained for hooliganism. He was released, but more serious charges were brought against him a few days later. Huseynov has his own YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/HOSTEL19AZ), and works for the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety and for the Turan News Agency. Mekhman Huseynov was nominated by the journalist Zamin Haci of Baku.


The decisions have been taken by an independent jury consisting of Falk Bomsdorf (Munich), Jo Groebel (Berlin), Gro Holm (Oslo), Stefanie Schiffer (Berlin), Theo Sommer (Hamburg), Vibeke Sperling (Oslo/Copenhagen), Michael Thumann (Istanbul) and Reinhard Veser (Frankfurt am Main).

The Fritt Ord Foundation's Press Prizes 'Free Press of Russia' and the Gerd Bucerius Prize 'Free Press of Eastern Europe' seek to strengthen the independent role of journalists, despite reprisals and financial difficulties, and their willingness to not give in to censorship and to resist self-censorship.

For a list of previous prize laureates, please see: Fritt Ords press prizes for 2012

Contact: Bente Roalsvig, project director, Fritt Ord Foundation, mobile: +47 916 13 340



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The Democracy Festival 2014
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Three former prime ministers and six recipients of the Fritt Ord Prize will be on stage at Demokratifestivalen on Eidsvoll, Saturday 13 September.

Per Fugelli, Abid Raja, Anne Sender, Nina Karin Monsen, Anders Sømme Hammer and Bushra Ishaq participate in what might be the most important conversation of this year’s celebration of the Norwegian Constitution’s 200th anniversary. Together will moderator Håvard Kleppa they will discuss the costs associated with freedom of speech.

The programme can be found here. The Fritt Ord Foundation has provided NOK 50 000 in support of the festival.