Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» ceremony in Tbilisi | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» ceremony in Tbilisi

Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» ceremony in Tbilisi

NHC congratulates the laureates of the Fritt Ord/ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» which were awarded in a ceremony in Tbilisi last week. Imprisoned journalist Seymur Hazi from Azerbaijan and the Ukrainian TV program Nashi Groshi were both nominated by NHC. The third laureate is the prominent Russian journalist Elena Milashina.

Jury member Martin Paulsen highlighted three virtues in his speech at the ceremony: "When it comes to your work, and the reasons why we chose you for this honour, I would like to emphasise the importance of three concepts: COURAGE, SOLIDARITY and COMPETENCE."

Martin Paulsen also urged the Azerbaijani government to release Seymur, saying that "he is much to important for your country and people to keep behind bars!"

NHC wrote in our nominations among other the following:

"Seymur Hazi, a prominent and highly-respected journalist, has dedicated his life to seeking truth, promoting justice and fighting for rule of law and human rights in the oil-rich former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, a country under increasingly harsh authoritarian rule.

Fritt Ord and ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» ceremony in Tbilisi
Nigar Hezi, wife of imprisoned Seymur Hezi, thanks on behalf of her husband (photo

As an investigative journalist and as anchor of an exiled opposition broadcast outlet Hazi conducted painstaking research and reported on high-level corruption in higher political echelon of the regime. He is the outspoken advocate for releasing unjustly imprisoned activists amid Azerbaijan’s ever-shrinking space for freedom of expression and association. Hazi’s fearless journalism and activism have not been without disturbing consequences: At this writing, he remains behind bars on politically motivated and fake charges. He was sentenced to 5-years in jail in January 2015."

On Nashi Groshi we wrote:

"The idea for the project Nashi Groshi appeared even before Euromaidan, in 2010, when public and the media pressured changes towards more transparency over the distribution of state budget within the tender legislation for state procurement. Therefore the name, Nashi Groshi, Our (taxpayers’) money. First the internet portal with many journalistic contributions appeared. The sheer volume of information within the state procurement was, however, so great, that it was impossible to investigate all suspicious awarded tenders.

In 2013 a TV-program Nashi Groshi was launched on ZIK channel, airing weekly episodes provided by a team of skilled and experienced journalists all with their areas of interest and competence (tax heavens, investigation of judges, connections between high ranking officials and businesses, land property etc). Among those are Alina Strizhak, Alisa Yurchenko, Nadezhda Burdei and others.

During this time this investigative team won a number of journalism awards. The journalists themselves maintain, however, that the best awards are when their work results in real changes or removal of corrupt officials."

You can find the full speech of Martin Paulsen here.