Masha Gessen - 2018 Hitchens Prize

You can view Masha Gessen’s acceptance speech on our Youtube page, or read the complete text at The Atlantic.


DVRF is pleased to announce Masha Gessen as the winner of the 2018 Hitchens Prize. Ms. Gessen’s career as a writer, reporter, and activist is distinguished by its challenge to authoritarian forces that would police expression and dictate private behavior.

Born and raised in Moscow, Ms. Gessen has, at considerable personal risk, focused much of her work on Vladimir Putin and the re-emergence of a totalitarian Russia. Her many books and articles have been a consistent voice for political and social tolerance, and a warning against actual or threatened uses of state power to smother individual voices and punish dissent.

By any measure, Ms. Gessen is a worthy addition to the roster of Hitchens Prize winners. Her intellect, honesty, courage, and eloquence have brought much to the public square, and serve to remind us of the power an individual may yield with pen in hand. She is, in short, an author very much in the spirit of the late Christopher Hitchens, and highly deserving of the 2018 Hitchens Prize. 

The 2018 Hitchens Prize also marks a new partnership between the Foundation and The Atlantic, one of the country’s leading periodicals with a long history of journalistic excellence. Jeff Goldberg, Editor of The Atlantic, has joined the selection committee for the Hitchens Prize, and was a strong voice in support of Ms. Gessen. We are very pleased that The Atlantic will continue helping us both to identify worthy candidates and to promote the free expression values that the Prize stands for.