A Nobel Peace Prize-winning Russian journalist sold his medal for £84million and donated the money to Ukrainian refugee children.
Dmitry Muratov, editor of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, a fierce critic of the Kremlin, received the award last year together with fellow journalist Maria Ressa from the Philippines.
But on Monday – World Refugee Day – his medal went up for auction and fetched a staggering amount.
Previously, the highest amount ever paid for a Nobel Prize medal was $4.76m (£3.83m) in 2014, when James Watson, whose co-discovery of the structure of the ADN won him a Nobel Prize in 1962, sold his own.
The entire purchase price of the medal will benefit UNICEFUkraine’s humanitarian response for children displaced from Ukraine,
Heritage Auctions, which organized the auction, said in a statement.
Mr Muratov, who received the award in October 2021, helped found Novaya Gazeta and was the publication’s editor when it closed in March amid the Kremlin’s crackdown on journalists and public dissent in following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It was Mr Muratov’s idea to auction off his prize, having previously announced he was donating the £407,000 cash prize to charity.
The idea of the donation, he said, “is to give refugee children a chance for a future.”
Melted down, the 175 grams of 23-carat gold contained in Mr Muratov’s medal would be worth around £8,000.
He said he hoped the sale “would become the start of a flash mob, as an example for people to auction off their valuable possessions to help Ukrainians.”
And he added that these were important international sanctions taken against Russia do not prevent humanitarian aid, such as drugs for rare diseases and bone marrow transplants, from reaching those in need.
Mr. Muratov and Maria Ressa, who each received their own medals, were honored for their fights to preserve freedom of expression in their respective countries, despite attacks from harassment, their governments and even death threats.
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Muratov strongly criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war started in February that caused nearly five million Ukrainians to flee to other countries for their safety, creating the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II.
Freelance journalists in Russia are watched by the Kremlin, if not outright targeted by the government.
Since Putin came to power more than two decades ago, nearly two dozen journalists have been killed, including at least four who worked for Mr Muratov’s newspaper.
In April, Mr Muratov said he was attacked with red paint while on board a Russian train.
Since its inception in 1901, there have been nearly 1,000 recipients of Nobel Prizes honoring achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and the promotion of peace.
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