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Dmitry Muratov pictured at the Royal York Hotel in 2009. Muratov just received the Golden Pen of Freedom.Tom Sandler/The Globe and Mail

Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was given the Golden Pen of Freedom Award at a ceremony on Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia.

In bestowing the award, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers cited Mr. Muratov's leadership and his "outstanding perseverance in safeguarding Novaya Gazeta's independent editorial line, as well as the great sacrifices made by its staff."

World Editors Forum president Marcelo Rech presented the award in front of an audience of more than 700 publishers, chief editors and other senior newspaper executives from around the world.

"Despite the Kremlin's success in marginalizing independent reporting and the levels of violence and impunity media professionals face in Russia, Novaya Gazeta continues to wield considerable influence with its uniquely uncompromising editorial line," he said.

In a video address from Moscow, Mr. Muratov said, "I would like to express my appreciation to WAN-IFRA for this award, coming as it does 10 years after your Moscow conference, where [former Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev announced he would assist the development of our newspaper."

He added: "Only 5 per cent of the population in this country understand the freedom of media as a prime, core value, while about 80 per cent believe the main problem in Russia is poverty.

"Very few associate the two. Without freedom of speech, there is no way out of poverty.

"Freedom means that there is control over corruption and the state, which means that it impedes poverty. I believe your award will help us to further follow this way."

The Golden Pen of Freedom has been awarded annually since 1961 to recognize an "outstanding action … in the cause of press freedom."

Mr. Muratov's paper is widely seen as one of the last remaining critical voices in Russia's media landscape. Since its inception in 1993, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter whose coverage of Chechnya earned worldwide recognition.