Maryana Torocheshnikova, 2021 winner
Maryana Torocheshnikova has been with RFE/RL’s Russian Service for more than 20 years, joining the Service in 2000 as a correspondent in the provincial town of Tver, then later moving to work as a journalist from RFE/RL’s bureau in Moscow. Maryana quickly established herself as a top-quality court reporter, both on the ground and in the studio. She edited, then hosted the Russian Service’s successful weekly Justice radio show devoted to human rights in Russia. As the Russian Service moved from radio towards video, web, and social media in the past decade, Maryana has become a true TV star, transforming her weekly radio show into multimedia vertical on human rights called You Have a Right—a pivotal product for the Service combining national human rights reporting with personal stories of ordinary people who have had to deal with injustice or harassment by the hand of the Russian government.
In May 2021, Maryana relocated to Prague along with her devoted team, and just a couple of weeks later both the video show and the podcast of You Have a Right were successfully relaunched. Maryana’s deep intellectual analysis of human rights issues and her lively interviews with civil activists, politicians and public figures have resulted in a growing audience for You Have a Right on YouTube and Telegram.
For security reasons, we cannot disclose the full list of names of staff who have been forced to leave their countries, but in the past year a significant number of RFE/RL journalists working in Russia, Afghanistan, and Belarus have had to flee their native lands as a direct result of their dedication to reporting the news in countries that seek to suppress a free press.
As it has for more than seven decades, RFE/RL and its journalists serve as a beacon of truth and freedom in societies like those in Russia, Afghanistan, and Belarus where the governments in power seek to control what their people—our audiences—can and can’t know. The continuation of this work outside the borders of those countries by RFE/RL’s brave and committed journalists, represented here by Aleksei and Maryana, will have an enormous impact on the communities that our journalists have left behind, who otherwise would not have access to objective news and information.