A Nobel Peace Prize for “peaceful coexistence” to a Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian trio
In an iconic decision in favor of “peaceful coexistence,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Friday crowned a trio of “human rights defenders” in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, three key players in a tainted Ukrainian conflict.
The prestigious award was presented jointly to Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski, who is being held in prison in his country, the Russian NGO Memorial – which was hit by a dissolution order from the Russian authorities – and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, which focuses on documenting “Russian war crimes ‘ begins ‘in the ongoing conflict.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee would like to honor three outstanding advocates of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the three neighboring countries of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine,” said its President Berit Reiss-Andersen.
As expected, the committee therefore wanted to mark the occasion in light of the war in Ukraine, which plunged Europe into the worst security crisis since World War II.
But he was careful not to frontally criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched the February 24 invasion of his Ukrainian neighbor.
Asked if it was a poisoned gift for the Kremlin’s strongman, who is celebrating his 70th birthday today, Ms Reiss-Andersen said the award was not addressed to him, saying his regime was “authoritarian,” like that of Belarus, and must stop the repression.
The Belarusian regime did not appreciate this choice. Alfred Nobel, the prize’s inventor, “turns in his grave,” his diplomacy responded.
Ms. Reiss-Andersen called on Minsk to release Ales Beliatski, founder of the Viasna (“Spring”) human rights center. The 60-year-old activist was jailed again during the massive protests against the 2020 re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who Westerners see as fraudulent.
– suppression –
The protest movement, which for months brought together tens of thousands of protesters, was cracked down harshly: mass arrests, torture and forced exile…
Mr Lukashenko, in power since 1994 and long supported by Moscow, has made his country one of Russia’s very few allies in its offensive against Ukraine.
On Friday, Mr Beliatsky’s wife said she was overcome with “emotion” and “grateful”. In exile, Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, widely credited as the true winner of the 2020 election, hailed recognition of a “fight for freedom”.
Founded in 1989 by another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Andrei Sakharov, at the time of perestroika, Memorial has established itself as a key player in the field of rights in Russia, shedding light on the Stalinist crimes and then on the abuses committed in Chechnya or Russian paramilitaries in Syria.
Until last winter, the Russian judiciary ordered its dissolution over violations of a controversial “foreign agent” law, amid an increased crackdown on dissenting voices in the country.
Last year, the Nobel Prize winner crowned journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, whose license was also revoked, with an itchy hair in the Kremlin.
– Judge Putin? –
The Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties was rewarded for its “efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians.”
Its leader, Alexandra Matviïtchouk, on Friday called for the creation of an international tribunal to try Vladimir Putin. An adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency also expressed anger that the award was shared with Russian and Belarusian organizations.
According to UN investigators, Russia is guilty of a “significant number” of “war crimes,” including Russian bombings of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence against victims between the ages of four and 82.
Even after the discovery of many bodies in Boutcha or Izium after the liberation of these cities by Ukrainian troops, Russia speaks of lies.
Aside from the destruction and scores of casualties on Ukrainian soil, the Russian invasion has revived the specter of a nuclear strike instigated by Mr Putin, which was jeopardized by the counter-offensive launched by the Ukrainian army in September.
“This year we found ourselves in a situation with a war in Europe, which is extremely unusual, but also with a war that has a global impact on people around the world,” the committee chair herself noted the use of nuclear weapons and food shortages “.
“So it’s a very dark background and there’s no sign of immediate peace,” she said.
Mr. Beliatski has been in prison since July 2021 and is the fourth personality in history to be crowned with the Nobel Peace Prize while in custody, after Chinese Liu Xiaobo, Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi and German Carl von Ossietzky.
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