The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the Center for Civil Rights, Memorial and Ales Bialiatsky.

KYIV, Ukraine – The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to a trio of human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, drawing another round of strong international condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and widespread abuses and repression. The head of the Kremlin and his ally, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

The prize committee named Ukraine’s Center for Civil Rights (CCL), which works to document alleged war crimes by Russian invaders; Russian Human Rights Committee Memorial; and jailed Belarusian human rights lawyer Ales Byaliatsky as its annual peace prize winners, the second year in a row Putin critics have been among the nominees for the award.

Just ask Oleksandra Romantsova, executive director of the Center for Civil Rights of Ukraine, and learn that her organization won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. (Video: Reuters)

“They have for many years encouraged criticism of authority and protection of the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. said In announcing the winners.

Although the group did not mention Putin by name Lukashenko In its announcement, it was another high-profile condemnation of the repressive methods adopted by their governments Abuse of power and silence dissent at home and abroad.

Lukashenko, who has brutally suppressed critics in Belarus over what was widely condemned as fraud in the 2020 vote, has allowed his country to be a launching point for Putin’s failed bid to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Putin has cracked down on critics of the war, political opponents, journalists and other opponents as he launches an all-out war against Ukraine.

After notification by the committee, Oleksandra MatvichukThe head of the CCL’s committee called for the establishment of an international court to try Putin, Lukashenko and others for alleged crimes, and condemned the failure of international organizations to prevent war or protect victims of abuse.

“Russia should be expelled from the UN Security Council for its systematic violation of the UN Charter,” Matvichuk wrote. Facebook registration. “If we don’t want to live in a world where the rules are decided by someone with a more powerful military capability than the rule of law, things have to change.”

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Nobel’s decision was announced as a Ukrainian counteroffensive to free the territory from Russian occupation continued for months, revealing more evidence of alleged atrocities by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

Selection by the Nobel Committee memory, It follows last year’s award of the Peace Prize, which has exposed the crimes of the Soviet gulag and abuses by the Russian state since the 1980s. Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov is editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

There was a memorial dissolved This year, after the war began, Novaya Gazeta was forced to close its operations in Russia as Putin cracked down on dissent. Muratov later auctioned off his prize to benefit Ukrainian children.

The awarding of the peace prize to a Russian group and a Belarusian activist drew immediate criticism in Ukraine, where many politicians and activists view ordinary Russians as complicit in Putin’s war.

“The Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of the word ‘peace’, if the representatives of the two countries that attacked the third get it. @Nobel Prize Together,” Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said. He said on Twitter. “Neither the Russian nor the Belarusian organizations were able to organize opposition to the war. This year’s Nobel was ‘brilliant.’ “

Activists insist ‘truth is on our side’ as Russian courts freeze memorial human rights group

Nobel Committee, In explaining its awardCBelarus was accused of freeing Byaliatsky, who spoke out against decades of repression by Lukashenko’s government.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of Norway’s Nobel committee, said the prize was for people and institutions and not against Putin, who turns 70 on Friday, or anyone else.

“The focus that Mr. Putin has drawn on himself against this background is the suppression of civil society and human rights lawyers,” Rhys-Andersen told reporters in Oslo.

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Belarusian opposition figures praised the award and called for the release of political prisoners. Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikanovskaya described It was “an important recognition for all Belarusians fighting for freedom and democracy.”

Established in 1895 by the will of Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel, the prize consists of a gold medal and an award of $1.14 million. Unlike other prizes in physics, medicine and other fields, which are selected and awarded in Sweden, Nobel chose a Norwegian committee elected by the country’s parliament to administer the Nobel Peace Prize.

The award is prestigious international recognition for Memorial, Russia’s oldest human rights organization, which has come under intense pressure from Putin’s government in recent years as part of a crackdown on civil activists and rights groups that accelerated ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year. .

The International Association of Remembrance is renowned for researching and commemorating Soviet-era executions and imprisonment of dissidents. Its human rights arm, the Memorial Center for Human Rights, exposes ongoing abuses by Russian authorities and was instrumental in exposing military atrocities during two Chechen wars in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

The group publishes lists of political prisoners in Russia and maintains a large archive of human rights abuses by Russia’s security services during the Soviet era.

Last year, Russian courts overturned both sections of the monument after declaring them “foreign agents”. Order The organization is set to be disbanded in a move that has shocked Russia’s global rights advocates and observers.

In a parallel effort in Belarus, Bialiatsky founded the Vyasna Center in 1996.

Russia’s Muratov sells Nobel medal for $103.5 million to help Ukrainian children

Bialiatsky was first arrested in 2011 and served three years in prison on tax evasion charges, which he and his supporters see as direct retaliation for Vyasna’s actions, which helped oversee the biggest crackdown on Belarusian civil society in the country’s modern history. After the 2020 protests.

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Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in August 2020 to denounce Lukashenko’s declared victory in what is widely seen as a rigged election, allowing the longtime leader a sixth consecutive term. In response, Lukashenko’s crackdown on protesters prompted them to flee the country. Still, thousands are detained and in some cases tortured and beaten in prisons.

At least seven Vyasna activists were arrested in 2021, including Byaliatsky. Bialiatsky was accused of tax evasion.

In Ukraine, CCL documented and publicized abuses during the wave of anti-government protests in 2013 and 2014 as part of its ‘Euromaidan SOS’ initiative. Since then, the initiative has focused on events related to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Its support for separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The group has also created Map of Enforced Disappearances All over Ukraine.

Last month, Matvichuk and CCL received the Right to Livelihood Award Alternate Nobel“Towards Building Sustainable Democratic Institutions in Ukraine and Modeling a Path to International Accountability for War Crimes.”

Oleksandra Romantsova, another CCL official, said the prize sent a necessary warning to the Russian government for rights violations and violations of international norms, not only in Ukraine, but also in places like Moldova, where hundreds of Russian troops are stationed. within its internationally recognized boundariesAnd in Syria, Kremlin support has played a key role in enabling Damascus Violent suppression of opposition.

“If we don’t stop it here now, they will grow and take more and more territories and take more and more places where people will suffer,” Romantsova said in a voice message.

Dixon and Ilyushina report from Riga, Latvia. Ellen Francis and Paul Schem in London, William Branikin in Washington, Kostiandin Gutov in Kyiv, Isabel Khurshutian in Khryv Rih, Ukraine, and Natalia Abakumova in Riga contributed to this report.

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