The Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitri A. Muratov said on Thursday that 47 other Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging the world’s billionaires to donate $100 million to help children displaced by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts.
Mr. Muratov, the former editor of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, shared the prize in 2021 with the journalist Maria Ressa of Rappler, a news outlet in the Philippines. He later announced that he would donate his roughly $500,000 in prize money to support various charitable causes and auctioned his 23-karat gold Nobel medal. The medal sold for $103.5 million and all proceeds went to UNICEF to help child refugees from Ukraine.
He said in an interview that he had invited his fellow laureates to sign the letter last week when he spoke in Stockholm at an event for past honorees — and was stunned by the response.
“This letter was signed by those who understand how the universe works, how planets work, how cooling methods work, and who captured atoms with laser light,” Mr. Muratov said.
The signatories include the writers Orhan Pamuk and Svetlana Alexievich, the Iranian human rights defender Shirin Ebadi, the microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and other laureates from the fields of science, economics and literature.
“The war has destroyed 1,300 schools in Ukraine, and more than three million Ukrainian children have become refugees,” the letter reads. “It is impossible to put up with it.”
Titled “a letter from teachers to their graduates — the richest people on the planet,” it calls on the world’s 3,000 billionaires to donate $100 million to UNICEF before the end of the year, not just for children directly suffering as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine but also for those affected by its indirect consequences. That includes hunger resulting from a de facto blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, according to the letter.
“The past has already been stolen from these children,” Mr. Muratov said in the interview. “History can be corrected right now.”
Mr. Muratov suspended publication of his newspaper in March 2022, a month after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, after new laws were enacted that essentially criminalized independent reporting about the war. Novaya Gazeta and most of its journalists shifted operations to elsewhere in Europe, but Mr. Muratov remained in Russia.
Last month, Mr. Muratov was labeled a “foreign agent” in Russia — tantamount to an enemy of the state — and officially stepped down as Novaya Gazeta’s editor in chief.
He said that the journalists were continuing their work to the extent that they could but that their capacity to operate was extremely limited.
“I don’t have optimism nor pessimism inside me,” he said. “Most importantly, I don’t have any hope for anything. We’re just working because we have journalists and readers.”