The Peace Prize Committee has, on behalf of all Norwegian students, decided that the Student Peace Prize of 2023 goes to DOXA Magazine for their work for free expression and press in Russia.
DOXA is an online student-led magazine founded in 2017 at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. The magazine focuses on topics related to academia but has also reported on the political persecution suffered by students in the country and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are awarded the prize for their brave work exposing corruption and sexual harassment at universities, documenting state persecution, and fighting government disinformation.
Due to threats and persecution, the magazine works through a network of editors who live in exile, local informants, and anonymous journalists – all of which are either students or recent graduates. DOXA’s work highlights the importance of not cutting ties with critical actors living under authoritarianism, who need to know their opposition is recognized, and who will be essential to the reconstruction of a free and democratic society in the future.
The prize is awarded every other year, and is a collaboration between the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT), National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) and the Students’ and Academics’ International Assistence Fund (SAIH). DOXA is the 13th winner of the award.
“We are honoured to receive SPP as our first prize during 5 years of work. It signifies that all our fight for student rights, political prisoners and freedom of speech wasn’t not in vain. For us getting the prize is a chance to have this platform to talk about freedom of speech in the situation of war censorship, russian anti-war movement and role of students in that. And of course, SPP is a huge opportunity for DOXA to build connections with international student communities, Norwegian civil society and foundations” (Ekatarina Martynova, one of the DOXA editors)
The situation in Russia
Russia’s authoritarian way of being has, in recent years, become increasingly visible to the rest of the world. In spite of the circumstances, DOXA continues to fight for freedom of expression and press in Russia. Their work has shown to the world the reality and consequences of Russian censorship as they report on the situation for students who are politically persecuted, censored due to their academic work, or expelled from institutions for raising criticism.
In recent years, the Russian state has become increasingly hostile to critical voices within their borders. Protests are violently dispersed, thousands have been arrested for expressing their opinion, and human rights organizations are now categorized as foreign agents by the Kremlin. When members of DOXA supported the students who were taking part in the 2019 opposition protests, they were cut-off from their university, and four of their editors suffered raids at their homes, physical violence and house arrest. These actions came after the magazine published a short video explaining that it was illegal for universities to sanction students for participating in the protests. Despite having any witnesses and proof against DOXA, the Court granted the Prosecutor’s request for two years of corrective labor for the four DOXA editors. DOXA is at the forefront in today’s fight for free, independent media and the right to express oneself.