The billionaire Gleb Fetisov thought about financially supporting journalists when he became a defendant in a criminal case. The money that the winning reporters will receive should be enough to publish a book or move to another country.
On January 22, the 5-star Schweizerhof Luzern Hotel, located in Lucerne's Old Town, hosted the first Fetisov Journalism Awards (FJA). The award received its name in honor of its sponsor, ex-senator and former owner of My Bank, billionaire Gleb Fetisov F 86. FJA is notable for its prize fund of $ 525,000 (520,000 Swiss francs). This is almost twice the fund of the famous Pulitzer Prize ($ 300,000).
The prize was distributed among the winners in four categories: “Outstanding Journalistic Investigation”, “Best Investigation in the Field of Ecology”, “Contribution to the Civil Rights Movement” and “Outstanding Contribution to Peace”. Moreover, in the first two nominations, three winners were determined. The winner in the nomination for journalistic investigation was Argentinean Diego Cabot with an article in The Notebooks of Corruption on corruption of Argentina's former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The jury considered the best environmental investigation to be a series of publications by Nigerian Isaac Aniaogu and German Phillip Jacobson Dying in instalments (about how lead acid battery recycling companies pollute water and soil in Nigeria). For their contribution to the cause of peace, they awarded the Egyptian Mohammed Abo-Elgayt for the publication of how Western weapons are in the hands of terrorists from ISIS and Al-Qaeda *, operating in Yemen. Finally, Canadian journalist Katie May received a prize for her contribution to the civil rights movement with the publication of Remote life, rough justice on issues in the Canadian judiciary.
The idea of the award was born several years ago, told Forbes the chairman of the FJA organizing committee, human rights activist Eva Merkacheva. According to her, at the presentation of one of the Russian journalism awards, they talked with Fetisov, and he became interested in what other awards for media workers exist in the world. “The idea came up to create a prize like the Nobel Prize, but in journalism. And with such a prize so that the recipient could do something significant, for example, publish a book or move to another country, ”she said. According to Merkacheva, one of the main motives that prompted Fetisov to think about the prize was the criminal case against him in February 2014. It was the journalists who drew attention to the lawsuit against Fetisov. It hit the billionaire for the living.
Fetisov himself told Forbes that, in his opinion, journalism from all the “branches of power” most of all in the modern world needs financial support. He noted that he himself familiarized himself with a number of texts included in the short list. "I am impressed! I urge everyone to read these works, ”the businessman added. He emphasized that he did not interfere in the organization of the award. “There will never be any interference in the formation of the expert council, the jury and the selection of winners by the Fetisov family. We have another mission - to provide financing for all organizational issues and form a prize fund, ”concluded the billionaire.
The work on the award was carried out for about a year, organizational issues were created by the Fetisov Charitable Foundation, created by Fetisov in 2019. A special expert council worked on the shortlist. It included 14 people, including two Russians - Nadezhda Azhgikhina, former vice-president of the European Federation of Journalists, and Pavel Gusev, chairman of the Union of Journalists of Moscow. In total, experts received 168 applications from 50 countries and selected 33 of them for the shortlist (in total, more than 40 entries cannot be included in the list according to the rules of the award). Of these, the jury selected eight winners.
For Fetisov, this is not the first philanthropic initiative. For example, in 2017, he sponsored the largest non-state Russian literary award, Russian Booker. Since the mid-2010s, Fetisov, through the company Fetisoff Illusion, has been producing Russian and foreign films, including auteur films, for example, Andrei Zvyagintsev's Dislike. Fetisov himself in an interview with Forbes said that he was engaged in cinema as a business, and many of the films he produced were commercially successful. For example, Cook on Wheels with $ 16 million investment brought in more than $ 70 million in fees.
However, the condition that allowed him to enter the Forbes list, Fetisov did not earn at all in the cinema. At the end of December 2013, he sold his stake in Altimo holding (which combines Alfa Group's telecommunications assets) and My Decker Capital fund (investments in Chinese retail and real estate), receiving about $ 1.8 billion for these assets, according to Forbes.
Then Fetisov sold his “My Bank” (formerly “Provincial”). At the end of January 2014, the Central Bank revoked the license from My Bank, and in February 2014 Fetisov was detained on suspicion of fraud. The entrepreneur spent a year and a half in jail. Fetisov completely paid off debts to the depositors of My Bank in the amount of more than 15 billion rubles (among the bank's customers, there were ex-presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev and director Nikita Mikhalkov; Glazyev subsequently denied that he had money in My Bank) . In the spring of 2017, the Presnensky court of Moscow returned the criminal case to the prosecutor, but it has not yet been closed. However, today Fetisov is already free to move abroad - today he arrived at the Fetisov Journalism Awards in Lucerne.