The Oles Buzina media and literature prize is an important new Russian journalism award named after the popular pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist who was murdered in April 2015 in Kiev by neo-nazis in an effort to silence any dissent against the government in Kiev.
The prize is awarded jointly by the largest Russian news agency, Rossiya Segodnya, formerly known as RIA Novosti, and publisher of the Sputnik News website, and the Zinoviev Club, a Russian foundation whose mission is to popularize the ideas of the legendary 20th century Russian philosopher, Alexander Zinoviev, who along with Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were the top three most importortant Soviet dissidents and exiles.
Unlike Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, Zinoviev remained a convinced communist until the end of his life, and held a positive view of Stalin. The Zinoviev club is an important participant in the government’s efforts to develop a new Russian “national idea”. The club is headed by Zinoviev’s widow, Olga Zinovieva, operates under the auspices of Rossiya Segodnya, is closely affiliated with it, and holds its frequent public events on its premises.
Buzina has become a powerful symbol of what many argue are major crimes perpetrated by the Ukrainian government. He was an extremely popular Ukrainian author and journalist, and his murder shocked public opinion in Russia and Ukraine, as well as internationally. No serious effort has been made in Ukraine to punish his murderers, due to the political influence of neo-nazis in the government. He is the most prominent of several pro-Russian journalists and politicians who were murdered for similar reasons. A major statue of him will soon be erected in central Moscow.
Following is a 4 minute video with some typical statements from Buzina, the sort of thing he was murdered for. At the 3.20 mark it shows him on one of Russia’s most popular political talk shows, Voskresnii Vecher, explaining that he constantly gets death threats, and that he could be killed at any time. He was clearly willing to pay that price in order to speak what he believed to be the truth.
The headline speech at the ceremony was an emotional, tearful account of her son’s life by Buzina’s mother, leaving hardly a dry eye in the audience. The following is a short interview with her (in Russian/Ukrainian):
The prize is awarded in 8 categories, human rights, “civic courage”, journalism and political analysis, literature, op-ed, TV journalism, war reporting, and internet publications and blogs. The awards ceremony was held at the Rossiya Segodnya press center in Moscow on April 22.
Charles Bausman, the editor and founder of Russia Insider was awarded the prize for the journalism and political analysis category in recognition for his success in helping to create a successful new publication which has had significant influence around the world drawing attention to the dishonesty and moral failure of US and EU policy towards Ukraine, Russia, and the Middle East, and more importantly, mainstream media’s complicity in this.
Other recipients included the popular singer Iosif Kobzon, in recognition of his outspoken support of the Donbass, of which he is a native, and the many concerts he has performed there, landing him on the sanctions list, and Pavel Gubarev, the Donbass separatist military, political leader, and author in recognition for his book “Beacon of NovoRussia”. A full list of recipients can be found here (in Russian).
At the ceremony, Mr. Bausman accepted the prize in the names of the many people who have made Russia Insider possible, explaining to the audience that Russia Insider really resembles more a grass-roots movement more than a top-down publication, fueled by thousands of small donations and 100s of volunteer writers and that the true credit for its success belongs to the many people, writers, donors and others, who made the publication a reality.
The full text of his speech follows:
Thank you all very much for this warm welcome. Thanks to the Zinoviev club for this enormous honor. I am truly humbled, and gladly and proudly accept this prize.
I accept this award not just for myself, but in the name of the 1000s of people from around the world who have made RI possible.
People do not really understand that RI is more a grass roots movement than a publication. We are funded by small donations from 1000s of readers. We are staffed mostly by volunteers. We reflect the ideas of millions of citizens across Europe and North America who are appalled at how dishonest their media has become, its relentless push for war and hostility around the world, and who are determined to reign them in.
A little over a year ago we started as a small blog with a handful of writers and as many readers. Last month, 2 million people visited our combined news site and Youtube channel, reading or viewing 6 million articles and videos. This has all been done with on almost no budget, just by hard work, great sacrifice, and dedication from 100s of people. I think you would all agree, that 2 million people is quite a lot. Well, if that number impresses you, then you will be really impressed by how many people visited us in the month of November, at the height of the Syrian events: 10 million people, 27 million views.
Oles Buzina was a man who was prepared to die to defend the truth. How apt that Alexander Zinoviev’ name is now linked with his, because Zinoviev was famous for insisting on truth in all things.
Oles’s heroism is an inspiration to people all over the world, and very much to me personally. He truly joins the ranks of great men and women who risked everything for truth. People like Martin Luther King, and Ed Snowden, and many other heroes.
Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who worked with Snowden to expose the criminal and unconstitutional NSA spying on everyday citizens explained that when he met Snowden in that Hong Kong hotel room, and realized over the next few days the risk that young man had put himself in, the extent of his bravery, that he had no choice but to join him. His point: Courage is contagious. Any soldier who has seen battle can confirm this. In the same way, Oles’ sacrifice has inspired thousands, and will continue to do so as long as we keep his memory alive.
The plain fact is that at this particular point in history, on many things, on many very important things, the Russian state is on the side of truth. This has not always been the case, and indeed it seems to me that Russia is experiencing one of its golden ages, when all its hope and promise is shining through, for all the world to see.
It is no accident that today Russia is being attacked by by enemies of truth in America and Europe, and supported by friends of truth in those same places. Truth is a curious thing – no amount of lying, or enormous PR budgets with huge wealth and government power behind them, can stamp it out. Indeed, efforts to do so only make its flame burn brighter. For truth is more powerful than lies, as good is more powerful than evil. This is a fundamental fact of life.
Millions of citizens in Europe and America are waking up to this truth. I say to you Russia, speak up!, do not hide behind diplomatic niceties – call things by their true name with a loud and confident voice. The people of the West are ready to hear you. The response to our work has shown you this. The elections which are now shaking the US and Europe have shown you this.
The lies have not worked, and will not work, because of people like Oles Buzina, and 1000s of others inspired by him who would rather give their life than accept these lies.
His cause, your cause, our cause, is just and true.