In the latest episode of Ukrainians protesting against being put on the same podium with Russian figures, the director of the Kyiv-based Institute for Mass Information has turned down the Johann Philipp Palm International Award for Freedom of Speech and the Press after being nominated together with Russian journalist Aleksei Venediktov.
The award ceremony took place on December 4 in Schorndorf, Germany. Aleksei Venediktov noted that he is the first Russian citizen to receive this award, which is endowed with EUR 20,000.
“And I probably was the first Ukrainian to refuse it,” Romaniuk stated.
She explained that she was informed of her nomination together with Venediktov, the former editor-in-chief of the Russian Ekho Mosvky radio station, in the spring.
“Because Ukraine, Russia, symbolism, ‘both countries were affected.’ But I can’t imagine myself physically standing on the same stage and sharing an award with Venediktov. With a Kremlin-authorized liberal, a political scientist who has repeatedly pushed Kremlin propaganda, publicly calling Putin his ‘only boss,’ boasted of his ties with [Russian Foreign Minister] Lavrov, [Putin’s spokesperson] Peskov, and other officials, and so on,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
We reached out to Oksana to further find out why she turned down the award. The organizers reached out to her in the spring, informing her of the nomination. At this time, she was up to her ears with procuring bulletproof vests and other items for Ukrainian journalists who were reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the frontline. She said she is refusing, after which the organizing committee responded in an attempt to explain.