Human rights activists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Saturday. Appropriately, on Human Rights Day, the now defunct organization Memorial from Moscow, the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) from Kiev and the imprisoned Belarusian human rights lawyer Ales Byalyatski were honored with the world's most important political award. The chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, described them as "champions of peace".
The CCL chairwoman Olexandra Matwijtschuk and Memorial boss Jan Ratschinski were able to personally receive the medals and diplomas in the town hall of Olso. Byalzaki, who has been in prison for a year and a half, was represented by his wife Natalya Pinchuk. The winners have been known since the beginning of October. The awards are also seen as a sign against the actions of the Presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.
Pinchuk said: "Ales and all of us recognize how important and risky it is to carry out the mission of human rights defenders, especially in the tragic period of Russian aggression against Ukraine." Thousands of Belarusians are being oppressed and unjustly imprisoned, and hundreds of thousands are being forced to flee just because they want to live in a democratic state.
"In my home country, the whole of Belarus is in prison," she said on behalf of her husband. The award gives all Belarusians hope that they can count on the solidarity of the democratic world. Reiss-Andersen said to Byalyatski: "Ales, you are not alone. We are with you."
The Ukrainian Matviychuk emphasized: "Peace, progress and human rights are inextricably linked." A state that kills journalists, imprisons activists and breaks up peaceful demonstrations is a threat to peace around the world. Regarding the situation in her home country, she said: "People in Ukraine want peace more than anything else in the world. But peace cannot be achieved by an attacked country laying down its arms. That would not be peace, but occupation."
Russian Ratschinsky said the award was of great symbolic importance for Memorial. "It underscores that state borders cannot and should not separate civil society." With a view to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he also asked whether Memorial really deserved the award. His organization has tried a lot and achieved more than a little. "But did our work prevent the February 24 disaster?" During his speech, the Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit was close to tears.
The winners were honored for their many years of work in criticizing those in power and defending essential civil rights. They went to great lengths to document war crimes, human rights abuses and abuses of power, the jury said. "Together they demonstrate the importance of civil society for peace and democracy."
The prizes go back to the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). They will be presented on the day of his death, December 10th - the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, all others in Stockholm. This year, the award is endowed with ten million Swedish crowns (around 920,000 euros).
Nobel Prizes Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony