The Moscow Times reports:
German journalists have awarded President Vladimir Putin with their Closed Oyster prize for "continued obstruction of the free press in Russia."
"Putin is a flawless opponent of press freedom and relentlessly suppresses uncomfortable truths," said Thomas Leif of Netzwerk Recherche, the German journalists association that confers the annual prize to highlight impediments to the work of investigative reporters. Heribert Prantl, one of Germany's most prominent political journalists, said in a laudation published Monday that Putin viewed himself the "caretaker of Russia's frailty" and would not allow this task to be complicated by a critical press or an independent justice system. "Freedom of information in Russia means being free to love Putin. ... Freedom of the press means being free to write what Putin likes," wrote Prantl, a journalist with Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Putin skipped the award ceremony in Hamburg over the weekend, and organizers said that the Kremlin never replied to their written invitation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin appreciated criticism based on reality but as of late a lot of criticism has been simply for the sake of criticism, Kommersant reported. "Closed like an oyster" is a German expression for somebody who is unwilling to talk about something. Among former prizewinners is Germany's discount chain Aldi, notorious for not responding to press inquiries.