Activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia split Nobel Peace Priz

The awards traditionally highlight groups and activists who strive to prevent conflict, alleviate hardship and protect human rights.

OSLO, Norway — Human rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine has disrupted Almost uninterrupted peace in Europe for decades and the president of Belarus, his dictatorial ally.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2022 Prize to the imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, the Monument to the Russian Group and the Ukrainian Foundation’s Center for Civil Liberties.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the panel had honored “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence”.

“We are in the middle of a war and we are talking about two dictatorships and one country at war and we want to emphasize the importance of civil society,” she said.

In Ukraine, there was some outrage at awarding the Ukrainian team with activists from Russia and Belarus, whose government allowed Russian forces to attack Ukraine from its territory.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that the Nobel committee has an “interesting understanding of the word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries attacking a third country jointly receive” the prize.

“Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations can organize resistance,” he said.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry accused the Nobel Committee of honoring Bialiatski, with a spokesman calling their choices in recent years so “politicized” that “Alfred Nobel is tired of turning his head to the grave mine.”

Olav Njølstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, responded: “Well, I’m pretty sure we understand Alfred Nobel’s will and intentions better than the dictatorship in Minsk.”

When asked if the Nobel Committee had purposely rebuked Putin, whose 70th birthday is a Friday, Reiss-Andersen said that the prize is not against anyone but for the democratic values ​​that the winner holds. win championship. However, she noted that both the Russian and Belarusian governments “repress human rights activists”.

This is the second year in a row that Putin’s repressive government has been tacitly reprimanded with the award. It was awarded last year to Dmitry Muratov, editor of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, for their efforts in protecting freedom of expression. Both have struggled in the past year.

Bialiatski was a leader of the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s and has continued to campaign for human rights and civil liberties. He founded the NGO Center for Human Rights Viasna.

He was arrested following protests in 2020 against the re-election of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He remains in prison without trial and faces 12 years in prison if convicted.

“Despite great personal difficulties, Mr. Bialiatski did not give in one bit in the fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus,” Reiss-Andersen said.

Pavel Sapelko, one of Viasna’s leaders, told the Associated Press that the Belarusian authorities would not be able to turn a blind eye to Bialiatski winning the prize.

“It is a clear signal from the international community to the regime of Lukashenko, who must release all political prisoners,” Sapelko said by phone from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where he planned to release. after being forced to leave Belarus. Bialiatski is both an end, an alarm, and a recognition of achievements.

Six of Viasna’s human rights activists are currently imprisoned, while more than two dozen others work in secret, monitoring the worsening human rights situation in Belarus.

The memorial was established in the Soviet Union in 1987 to ensure that the victims of communist oppression would be remembered. It has continued to compile information on human rights abuses and track the fate of political prisoners in Russia. The country’s highest court ordered its closure in December, the latest move in a relentless crackdown on human rights activists, independent media and opposition advocates.

Tatyana Glushkova, a board member of the Memorial Center for the Defense of Human Rights, said one of the reasons the Kremlin considers the group a threat is because it understands and informs people of the “similarities.” between the Putin regime and the Soviet regime”.

Glushkova noted that the award was presented to the group on the day they once again had to appear in court in Moscow – this time on a case involving their office building in central Moscow.

The Center for Civil Liberties was established in 2007 to promote human rights and democracy in Ukraine during a time of turmoil in the country. Following the Russian invasion in February, the group worked to document Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians.

“The Center is playing a pioneering role in holding guilty parties accountable for their crimes,” Reiss-Andersen said.

A researcher at the center, Volodymyr Yavorskyi, said the award is important to the organization because “for many years we have worked in an invisible country.”

“Human rights activism is the main weapon against war,” said Yavorskyi, who is married to a Belarusian and lived in the Belarusian capital Minsk until May 2021, when he was deported with his son. 9 years old. He was banned from entering Belarus for 10 years and said law enforcement beat him during interrogations.

The prize is worth 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) in cash and will be awarded on December 10. The money comes from a will made by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. , left in 1895.

Olav Njoelstad, secretary of the awards committee, told the AP that if Bialiatski is unable to claim the prize in person, he can ask a representative to come collect the prize for him, like the Polish winner. Lech Walesa did in 1983. Otherwise, the committee could choose to symbolically place an empty chair on the stage, in the same way that Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned in 2010. Activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia split Nobel Peace Priz

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