OSLO — Imprisoned Belarusian activist Ares Byaryatsky, Russian rights group Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties were awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The award, the first peace prize since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, is a nod to the Cold War era when prominent Soviet dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn received Nobel Prizes for peace and literature. increase.
The award was seen by many as denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, making it one of the most politically controversial prizes in decades. It will be.
“I believe this is a war that is the result of active aggression by an authoritarian regime,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Berit Reis-Andersen told Reuters after the announcement. .
She said the committee wanted to honor “three outstanding defenders of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence”.
“It’s not one person, one organization, one first aid,” she said in an interview. “It is the concerted efforts of what we call civil society that can stand against dictatorships and human rights violations.”
She called on Belarus to release Vyaryatsky from prison, saying the award was not for Putin.
Last July, Belarusian security police detained 60-year-old Byaryatsky and others in a new crackdown on Lukashenko’s opposition.
Authorities had moved to shut down non-state media outlets and human rights groups after mass protests against the previous August presidential election.
Byalyatski’s wife told Reuters he may not know the news he tried to reach him in a telegram to a Belarusian prison.
In Geneva, Russia’s ambassador to the UN said Moscow was not concerned about the ruling. “We don’t care about this,” Gennady Gatilov told Reuters.
In Belarus, the award was not covered by state media.
Founded in 1989, it supports victims of Soviet-era political repression and their relatives, and commemorates campaigns for democracy and civil rights in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Its co-founder and original leader was Sakharov, the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Memorial, Russia’s most prominent human rights group, was ordered to dissolve last December after it violated a law requiring certain civil society groups to register as foreign agents. day to day.
Memorial Committee member Oleg Orlov called the award “a moral support”, but when asked by reporters if it would help protect his organization or its activities, he said ” I’m not afraid,’ he said.
The Memorial award is the second for a Russian individual or organization after last year’s journalist Dmitry Muratov and Maria Ressa from the Philippines.
Oleksandra Romantsova, executive director of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, said it was incredible to receive the award.
“That’s great. Thank you,” she told Olaf Njörstad, secretary of the awards committee, in a call that was filmed and broadcast on Norwegian television.
The group also wrote on Twitter how proud it was.
Prizes will be awarded in Oslo on December 10th.