The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia.

They were cited for their fight for freedom of expression.

The winners were announced Friday by Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda,” said Reiss-Andersen.

“Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time.”

Ressa in 2012 co-founded Rappler, a news website that has focused “critical attention on the [President Rodrigo] Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign,” the Nobel committee said.

She and Rappler “have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.”

Muratov was one of the founders of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in 1993.

“Novaya Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power,” the Nobel committee said.

“The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media.”

Kremlin sends congratulations

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov congratulated Muratov on winning the prize, hailing him as a “talented and brave” person.

“We can congratulate Dmitry Muratov — he has consistently worked in accordance with his ideals, he has adhered to his ideals, he’s talented and brave. It’s a high appraisal and we congratulate him,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters after the prize was announced.

The prestigious award comes with a gold medal and 10 million Swedish kronor (more than $1.44 million Cdn). The prize money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1896.

Last year’s prize went to the World Food Program, which was established in 1961 at the behest of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower to fight hunger around the globe. The Rome-based UN agency was lauded for seeking to end starvation as “a weapon of war and conflict.”

The Nobel Committee awarded prizes for medicine, physics, chemistry and literature earlier this week.

Still to come Monday is the prize for outstanding work in the field of economics.

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