Grigory Pasko (Russia) : Winner of the Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Prize 2002
The nuclear pollution caused by the Russian military fleet in the Sea of Japan, is far too critical a matter for Moscow to give the media any opportunity to investigate it any further. Their priority seems to be to muzzle the press, rather than to deal with the ecological impact on Russia’s worried neighbouring countries. In his Vladivostok prison, Grigory Pasko knows this full well: his incarceration is a wake-up call for all journalists. The Russian military exacts a heavy toll on whoever dares to implicate them.
After having already spent 20 months in jail in 1997 and 1999 before he was even granted a trial, Pasko was put behind bars again, in December 2001-where he has been ever since-for the same reasons: Pasko was sentenced to four years in prison merely for having thoroughly investigated and written hundreds of articles about the pollution caused by the quasi-abandonment-with the complicity of the FSB (ex-KGB)-of the Russian military’s nuclear submarines, and for allegedly releasing images of the Russian fleet dumping radioactive liquids into the Sea of Japan. These images, which he filmed while working as a correspondent for the naval newspaper Boevaya Vakhta, were broadcast by the NHK Japanese television station, raising vigorous international protests. The FSB deemed these to be acts of "espionnage" and "high treason", he was sentenced in 2001 by the Vladivostok Military Court. In June 2002, the Moscow Supreme Court upheld his sentence of four years in prison without parole. Most of his legal recourses having now been exhausted, Pasko is still languishing in prison, in the place of those who are responsible for the criminal pollution that he exposed.
Pasko is one of the 110 journalists currently in prison around the world just for wanting to do their job. He is supported by several international medias, as part as the journalists sponsorships launched by Reporters Without Borders. These are M6, LCI, Le Nouvel Observateur, France Soir, RFI, Radio classique, France Culture, Phosphore, Le télégramme de Brest et de l’Ouest, le Club de la presse du Limousin, Essex Chronicle, Le Courrier, RTBF - Fréquence Wallonie et la Maison de la presse de Mons.
Over 500 journalists have been killed over the past decade for trying to keep us informed. In too many countries, a journalist can be killed or spend years in prison for just a word or a photograph.
Imprisoning or killing a journalist gets rid of a vital witness to events and threatens the right of us all to information. So Reporters Without Borders and the Fondation de France, through this _7,600 prize, reward a journalist who has shown devotion to freedom of information through their professional work or principled stand.
Previous winners have been Zlatko Dizdarevic (Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992), Wang Juntao (China, 1993), André Sibomana (Rwanda, 1994), Chris Anyanwu (Nigeria, 1995), Isik Yurtçu (Turkey, 1996), Raúl Rivero (Cuba, 1997), Nizar Nayyuf (Syria, 1998), San San Nweh (Burma, 1999), Carmen Gurruchaga (Spain, 2000) and Reza Alijani (Iran, 2001), who was freed in December last year, a few weeks after being awarded the 10th Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France Prize.
The five journalists nominated for the 11th prize are:
Gao Qinrong, of the Chinese official news agency Xinhua, who was sentenced in April 1999 to 13 years in prison for having investigated and written about a failed irrigation project in the Yuncheng region of Shanxi province (China);
Bernardo Arévalo Padrón, founder of the Cuban independent news agency Línea Sur Press, who was jailed for six years in November 1997 for "insulting" President Fidel Castro and Vice-President Carlos Lage by calling them "liars" for not keeping promises of democracy they made at an Ibero-American Summit (Cuba);
Michèle Montas, head of Radio Haïti Inter, who has been fighting against impunity since her husband, journalist Jean Dominique, was murdered in April 2000 (Haiti);
Grigory Pasko, of the Russian ecology magazine Ekologiya i pravo and former correspondent of the military paper Boevaya Vakhta, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2001 for reporting that the Russian navy had dumped liquid radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan (Russia);
Myroslava Gongadze, a journalist for Radio Free Europe, who is fighting for identification and punishment of those who murdered her husband, Georgy Gongadze, editor of the online paper www.pravda.com.ua, in September 2000. She is pushing for establishment of international legal machinery to boost the safety of journalists and press freedom in Eastern Europe (Ukraine).
By rewarding one of these journalists, who symbolise press freedom in their countries, Reporters Without Borders and the Fondation de France are sending a message to the public that they need to take a stand in favour of press freedom.
The prizewinner will be chosen by an international jury composed of:
Hamed Hamidzada (Afghanistan), Andrew Graham-Yooll (Argentina), Rubina Möhring (Austria), Mainul Islam Khan (Bangladesh), Olivier Basille (Belgium), Colette Braeckman (Belgium), Zlatko Dizdarevic (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Sebastião Salgado (Brazil), Maung Maung Myint (Burma), Ricardo Gonzalez (Cuba), M’Baya Tshimanga (Democratic Republic of Congo), Domenico Amha-Tsion (Eritrea), Francis Charhon (France), Noël Copin (France), Laurent Joffrin (France), Elise Lucet (France), Sabine Christiansen (Germany), Michael Rediske (Germany), Guy Delva (Haiti), Alessandro Oppes (Italy), Ricardo Uceda (Peru), Alexey Simonov (Russia), Fernando Castelló (Spain), Vicente Verdu (Spain), Alice Petrén (Sweden), Laurence Deonna (Switzerland), Sihem Bensedrine (Tunisia), Alla Lazareva (Ukraine), Alan Rusbridger (United Kingdom), Ben Ami Fihman (Venezuela).
Reporters Without Borders - Lucie Morillon - tel: +33 1 4483-8474 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fondation de France - Magali Mévellec - tel: +33 1 44 21 31 91 - email@example.com
Dowload the photos of Reporters Without Borders / Fondation de France Prize 2002
A four-year prison term for Grigory Pasko: a warning to all Russian journalists
The four other nominated journalists
Recipients of the 1992-2001 "Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France" Prize
Fondation de France: our Partner for the Reporters Without Borders’ Prize