Who Is Dmitry Muratov? Defiant Russian Nobel Winner Helping Ukraine's Kids

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov has raised $103.5 million for Ukrainian child refugees by auctioning off his Nobel Peace Prize.

This week's sale has shattered the previous record for the sale of a Nobel, which was $4.76 million, according to The Guardian.

Muratov won the Nobel in October last year for his efforts to safeguard freedom of expression in Russia. Here's the man behind the award.

Dmitry Muratov
Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov seen holding up a copy of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper at his Nobel Peace Prize auction in New York City on June 20, 2022. Muratov is known for championing free speech in Russia. Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Early Life

Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov was born on November 30, 1960, in Kubyshev, a Soviet region now known as Samara in Russia, according to the Nobel Prize organization's website.

He started his career as a journalist writing for newspapers until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the new Russia, he formed the Novaya Gazeta, a pro-democracy publication, with some colleagues.

Under Muratov's leadership, the newspaper has been critical of the Russian government, calling out corruption, fraud and human rights violations. Altogether, six Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed over the years in connection with their work. The causes of their deaths have included bludgeoning, shooting, and poisoning, per The Economist.

During his time at the paper, Muratov has criticized Russia's military actions including the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Regarding Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Muratov has called it "a tragedy" and "a mistake," The New York Times reported.

Recent Work

Muratov and Novaya Gazeta have worked to cover the war in Ukraine recently, although he has faced resistance. In April, he was traveling via train from Moscow to Samara when an unidentified man threw solvent-laced red paint over him. Muratov received medical attention due to eye irritation.

According to a Telegram post by Novaya Gazeta Europe, the man had shouted: "Muratov, here's one for our boys."

Novaya Gazeta said earlier this year that it would suspend online and print activities until the end of Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine, after receiving multiple warnings from the Russian government about its coverage of the war. It is illegal in Russia to refer to the current conflict in Ukraine as a "war", "attack" or "invasion," per CNN.

Journalists from Novaya Gazeta then launched a new Europe-based media outlet, Novaya Gazeta Europe, shortly afterwards.

Nobel Prize

Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October this year alongside Maria Ressa, a campaigning journalist from the Philippines. Muratov later said in his prize lecture that it was for "my colleagues from Novaya Gazeta, who have lost their lives—Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekotschikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasija Baburova, Stas Markelov and Natasha Estemirova."

Muratov said that he would donate the roughly $500,000 in prize money to charitable causes. At the start of this month, he announced that he planned to make the award go even further.

Muratov said he would be selling the 23-karat gold Nobel medal at auction in New York via Heritage Auctions on June 20, with all proceeds going to UNICEF in order to help child refugees from Ukraine. He said the sale would be "an act of solidarity" with the millions of people displaced by the Russian invasion, The New York Times reported.

The prize was sold to an unnamed phone bidder for $103.5 million, surpassing expectations.