15 JULY 2020, LONDON – I’m delighted to announce the launch of my new podcast in partnership with the Justice for Journalists Foundation. I’m going to be interviewing brave and resilient journalists from around the world who face persecution just for doing their job, and taking a closer look at their stories that threaten the powerful.
It’s no coincidence that we have chosen to make ourannouncement today. On the 15th of July 2009 – 11 years ago today – my mother, Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist and journalist, was kidnapped outside our house and murdered. Not only did this tragic event profoundly change my own life, it also sent shock waves across Chechnya. The clear message was that pursuing truth and justice is punishable by death.
I left Russia a year after my mother’s murder. For years, I have watched from afar as my troubled homeland has wiltedaway at the hands of the tyrant Ramzan Kadyrov – disappearances continuing unchecked, with people too terrified to speak out, and journalists beaten and threatened with even worse for their investigative work.
Without a free media, society becomes stunted and weakened – vulnerable to the abuses of the powerful. The Justice for Journalists Foundation is helping to build a protective shield around media workers by funding their investigations andraising awareness about the violence they face for pursuing their work, as well as equipping them with the means to ensure their personal safety.
Across the world, we are witnessing a disturbing pattern ofincreased attacks on independent media perpetrated by corrupt governments, corporations, and powerful individuals who fear their wrongdoing being brought to light. We must stand in solidarity with journalists to ensure that they are not silenced.
With the launch of this podcast, we’re escalating our efforts to give these journalists a platform to share their work and talk about the risks they face because of it. Publicity and awareness are effective tools that provide them with an additional layer of protection. With this podcast, our audience will hear voices that usually remain hidden behind the curtain – we will place the journalists themselves at the heart of the story. It is our priority to invite individuals from diverse backgrounds, because the silencing of the independent media is a universal global issue – from Brazil and Somalia to Azerbaijan and Ukraine.