The 2016 Free Media Awards

The Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT-Stiftung Free Media Prizes for Independent Journalism in Eastern Europe

In 2016, the Free Media Awards presented by the Fritt Ord Foundation in Oslo and the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius in Hamburg will go to three journalists and media in Azerbaijan, Russia and Ukraine.

The independent jury has considered 40 nominations submitted by NGOs, human rights organisations and other experts. The 2016 Free Media Awards, consisting of EUR 15 000 each, will be awarded to the following journalists and media organisations:

Seymur Hazi
(1982), editor and commentator in the newspaper Azadlig, Baku, Azerbaijan, and reporter for the TV channel Azerbaijani Hour, based in Turkey. Hazi has reported on corruption and the abuse of power in his native country and, as a result, he has experienced threats and suffered brutal physical abuse. He has been imprisoned in Azerbaijan since August 2014, and legal processes against him on a charge of 'hooliganism' began recently. Seymur Hazi was nominated by Shahvalad Chobanoglu, Zamin Haji, Natiq Javadli, Mehman Huseynov, Tahmina Tagizade and Khadija Ismayilova. The latter is also imprisoned in Azerbaijan. The Henrich Böll Foundation's department for South Caucasus and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee also nominated Hazi.

The Russian journalist Elena Milashina (1987), correspondent in the Northern Caucasus for Novaya Gazeta, Moscow, raises awareness of different scare tactics used by the Chechnian authorities to repress critics and create a suffocating silence all across the country. The investigative journalist Elena Milashina, who constantly receives grave threats and has been the victim of violent assaults on several occasions, was nominated by the Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo, Center for Caucasus Initiative – DOSH and Youth Human Rights Movement.

The Ukrainian website Nashi Groshi ('Our Money'), Kiev, is dedicated to fighting corruption in Ukraine. Nashi Groshi presents extensive information about public calls for tender and business transactions. First and foremost, the website investigates civil servants' and politicians' involvement in public contracts, publishing the relevant facts. Nashi Groshi was nominated by Stefanie Schiffer and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

The 'Free Media Awards' is the new name for the Press Prizes awarded by the two foundations. The prizes provide support for journalists and media that report independently and refuse to give up in the face of threats. The media operate under tremendous pressure in many countries in Eastern Europe. With the Free Media Awards, we aspire to encourage journalists and media to carry on their work, despite threats and violent oppression. With the Free Media Awards, we seek to express our respect and admiration in an effort to strengthen independent journalism.

George Orwell once said if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. We consider the Free Media Awards to be in precisely this spirit – freedom of expression is irreplaceable. We will organise a public debate on this topic along with prize laureates in November 2016 in Tbilisi, and we will invite new nominations for the Free Media Prizes once again in 2017.

The award ceremony will take place in November 2016 in Tbilisi, Georgia, as part of a multi-day international conference for journalists.

The jury for the Free Media Awards consists of the following members: Alice Bota, Moscow correspondent for the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT, Ane Tusvik Bonde, regional manager for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus at the Human Rights Foundation, Oslo, Guri Norstrøm, Berlin correspondent for the National Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), Oslo, Martin Paulsen, associate professor of Russian at the University of Bergen, Stefanie Schiffer, executive director of the European Exchange, Berlin, and Stephan Wackwitz, executive director of the Goethe Institute, Tbilisi.

Ane Tusvik Bonde, jury member and regional manager for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus at the Human Rights Foundation, Oslo, tel. +47 997 43 907

Martin Paulsen, jury member and associate professor of Russian at the University of Bergen, tel. +47 992 55 965

Bente Roalsvig, project and deputy director at the Fritt Ord Foundation, tel. +47 916 13 340

Visning av dokumentarfilmen «Angels on Diamond Street» og samtale om sivil ulydighet
There is currently no English translation available for this entry

Time and venue: 28 February 2020, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., at Vega Scene, Hausmanns gate 28, Oslo.

Artistic freedom of expression is often an indicator of exactly where we draw the line in a society. Has the work of Norwegian documentalists become more difficult?

The Fritt Ord Foundation and The ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius hereby invite nominations of independent journalists, bloggers, Internet media and newspapers for the 2020 Free Media Awards.