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Investigative Journalists Win 2008 Integrity Awards

Two investigative journalists from Russia and the United Kingdom will be honoured with the 2008 Integrity Awards, a yearly recognition of extraordinary contributions to the fight against corruption awarded by Transparency International (TI).

The 2008 winners, David Leigh, Investigations Editor at the Guardian (UK) and Roman Shleynov, Investigations Editor at Novaya Gazeta (Russia), are being honoured for their research and exposure of corruption in defiance of bureaucratic obstacles and the risk of legal action against them, in order to penetrate secret webs.

“The high standards of integrity and relentless pursuit of the truth displayed by David Leigh and Roman Shleynov, show that spotlighting facts is a powerful weapon against corruption. Their reporting demonstrates that investigative journalism is a route to public accountability,” said Sion Assidon, Chair of TI’s Integrity Awards Committee.

David Leigh’s extensive reporting on the role of foreign bribery in gaining business, his exposure of corruption allegations in projects guaranteed by the UK’s Export Credit Guarantees Department as well as political corruption in the UK, show his dedication to a multi-faceted problem.

During the past five years, Leigh’s landmark investigations into alleged bribery by British Aerospace Systems in relation to the UK-Saudi Al Yamamah arms deal, as well as deals with other countries, greatly increased awareness about how developed countries may be complicit in fuelling corruption in developing nations. His untiring pursuit of the truth has also helped journalists in other countries to report on investigations involving BAE Systems and their own governments.

Having worked on stories ranging from embezzlement by a former Russian nuclear energy minister to a recent investigation into the billions of black market cigarettes making their way from Kaliningrad to the rest of Europe, Roman Shleynov focuses almost exclusively on exposing the corrupt nexus between business and politics. His independent reporting and investigative expertise at Novaya Gazeta has brought Shleynov the attention of Russia’s Federal Security Service (the former KGB), which has called him for questioning at least four times over the past nine years.

Since 2000, Novaya Gazeta has seen four of its journalists brutally murdered, including three of Shleynov’s colleagues who worked on corruption stories. The well-respected paper is known for its independent, investigative reporting, much of it exposing high-level corruption in Russia, where the majority of the media is controlled by the state. A collection of Shleynov’s stories can be found on Novaya Gazeta’s English website.

“Demonstrating how corruption undermines accountability and the rule of law –as Leigh and Shleynov have done- is indispensible to challenging the abuse of power for privilege and illicit gains,” added Assidon.

The 2008 Integrity Awards winners will be honoured at a ceremony to be held on 17 February 2009 in London. The ceremony will be open to the press.

Now in its seventh edition, the Integrity Awards have honoured individuals and organisations from Asia and Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. These have included journalists and public prosecutors, accountants and government officials along with leaders of civil society. In many cases, it was clear that these individuals and organisations required protection.

The TI Integrity Awards Committee consists of eight individuals from across the world who have been active in the anti-corruption movement for many years. They serve as the jury for the awards and confer with the TI Board of Directors. Nominations are accepted for individuals and organisations and are subject to independent vetting under the guidance of the Integrity Awards Committee.

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Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

Download photos of David Leigh and Roman Shleynov.

For further information on the Integrity Awards click here.

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Gypsy Guillén Kaiser
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