Ukraine, Eastern Europe a Focus of Nobel Committee as Laureates Announced


Belarusian human rights activis Ales Bialiatski speaks after he and the Belarusian human rights organization Vjasna were awarded the 2020 Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm on December 3, 2020. | Image by Getty Images

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize has been granted to one individual and two organizations, all three of which are human rights advocates.

On Friday, the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 was awarded to Ales Bialiatski, a human rights advocate from Belarus, along with the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties, and Memorial, a Russian human rights organization.

Head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen said the panel wanted to honor “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy, and peaceful coexistence.”

“We are in the midst of a war, and we are talking about two authoritarian regimes and one nation fighting a war, and we would like to highlight the importance of civil society,” she said.

Bialiatski, 60, is currently being held in prison without trial. He has been imprisoned since 2021 on a tax evasion charge, but many believe his incarceration to be politically motivated.

In the 1980s, Bialiatski helped launch the Belarusian democracy movement and founded the Viasna Human Rights Center in 1996.

Reiss-Anderson claimed Bialiatski “devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his home country.”

“Government authorities have repeatedly sought to silence Ales Bialiatski,” she said. “Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr. Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus.”

The Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) was founded in 2007 to support democracy and promote human rights in Ukraine. After Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the CCL — an organization directly funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations — has worked to document alleged Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians.

Reiss-Anderson said, “The center is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes.”

The Russian human rights center Memorial was founded in the Soviet Union in 1987 to document crimes against humanity and support victims of political oppression.

Memorial became the most authoritative source on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities. During the Chechen wars, Memorial gathered information on potential abuses and war crimes perpetrated on civilians by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

In December 2021, the Russian government forcibly liquidated Memorial, but the people behind it refused to stop working.

Chairman Yan Rachinsky stated, “Nobody plans to give up.”

During a press conference, Reiss-Anderson said the prize was “not addressing President Putin … except that his government, as with the government in Belarus, is representing an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists.”

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