Zoya Svetova, a freelance journalist based in Moscow, publishes her articles in three publications: Novye Izvestia, the Caucasian magazine Dosh , and internet newspaper Yezhenedel’nyi Zhurnal. She is especially concerned with informing the public about human rights abuses in the Russian Federation. She turns the spotlight on conditions in the Russian legal system and the inhumanity of its criminal prosecutions. She makes the connection from the legal situation in the regions to the country’s international commitments. Zoya Svetova is a committed, courageous and articulate journalist. She was nominated for the award by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo.

“This is important for me that I work not for the only publication,” Svetova said, “the reason for that is that I am not always free to write as I want; I collaborate with printed publications, internet-recourses, which are considered to be the most liberal nowadays. So this award is not so much for me as for the media outlets publishing my writings,” she added. In her view, “awards of this kind are no doubt useful. Journalists reporting about human rights, judiciary problems, the persecution of dissidents, or political prisoners are themselves in need of support. Unless they are not supported in the Russian Federation it is important they are supported in other countries.” Zoya Svetova was a nominee for the 2007 Andrei Sakharov Award For Journalism as a Deed.

“The fact that my modest efforts were estimated is a strong motivation for me to keep on writing and staying in the journalistic profession. Despite the pretty hard times in today’s the Russian Federation, as far as that is concerned,” said Svetova.

As for the freedom of expression development in the Russian Federation, in spite of the pressure over the independent journalists, Zoya Svetova keeps on optimistic views. “Unless I was not sure that the Russian Federation has future, I would leave it. But I stayed there even in 1980s years when my parents were in prison – they were dissidents. I am not going to leave it nowadays and do not want my children to leave it since the Russian Federation has perspectives and we must do something ourselves,” she said.

The other Russian winner of the Eastern Europe Free Press award, Roman Shleinov, is the editor of the Novaya Gazeta independent investigations unit.

The Bucerius Award is named after the famous German lawyer, journalist and publisher Gerd Bucerius, who founded German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. The Gerd Bucerius Prize Free Press of Eastern Europe is awarded to journalists actively involved in the promotion of a free press, freedom of speech, and a liberal civil society in Eastern European countries.

Quality, professionalism and courage are qualities that distinguish the journalists who receive the Gerd Bucerius Prize Free Press of Eastern Europe.

P.S. The Free Press of Eastern Europe Foundation together with its partner, the Norway-based Freedom of Expression Foundation “Fritt Ord” will confer its awards on the winners in Oslo on June 3.