Its researchers unearthed atrocities and memorialized the victims of the Stalin era. They documented abductions and killings in the war-battered republic of Chechnya. Its members held the increasingly authoritarian government of President Vladimir V. Putin to account.
On Friday, the Russian organization Memorial was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work to shine a spotlight on Soviet and Russian state repression, efforts that have taken on added resonance at a time when Russia’s war in Ukraine has helped spur one of the Kremlin’s toughest clampdowns on freedom of expression in decades. The prize was shared with rights advocates in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus.
Memorial has played a pivotal role in forcing Russia to come to terms with its totalitarian past — and, in the process, illuminated the crimes of the present. The organization’s reaction to winning the Peace Prize was posted to Instagram: “For now, we have no words.”
The Peace Prize is the second in a row for a Russian entity — an unusual streak that underlines the high stakes and long odds in the struggle over Russia’s future. Last year, one of the two Peace Prize laureates was Dmitri A. Muratov, the editor of the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta — six of whose journalists have been murdered. The newspaper ceased operating in Russia this year, under a new law that essentially criminalizes independent reporting on the war in Ukraine.