Nobel Peace Prize winners receive award in Oslo | News

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian activists for promoting the right to criticize the authorities and protect the basic rights of citizens.

Ales Bialiatsky, a jailed activist from Belarus, the Russian organization Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties group were announced as recipients in October.

Al Jazeera will be live from Oslo, Norway at 16:00 GMT, with Bialiatsky’s wife Natalia Pinchuk, Jan Raczynski from Memorial and Oleksandra Matvichuk from the Center for Civil Liberties talking about the importance of civil society during the war. and the challenges and risks activists face in their work.

The prize, worth about $900,000, was handed out Saturday on the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in 1895.

In his acceptance speech, Raczynski blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “insane and criminal” war in Ukraine.

Rachinsky told the audience that under Putin, “resistance to Russia is called ‘fascism'” and is the “ideological justification for an insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Matvichuk said his country cannot achieve peace by “laying down its arms” against Russia. “This is not peace, but occupation,” he said.

Pinchuk, speaking on behalf of her husband, said Putin wanted to turn Ukraine into a “dependent dictatorship” like Belarus, “where the voice of oppressed people is ignored and ignored.”

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The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the recipient “for his outstanding efforts to document war crimes, human rights abuses and abuses of power”.

“Together they demonstrate the importance of civil society for peace and democracy,” the panel said in its citation.

Here’s a look at who the recipients are and why their work is important:

Ales Bilyatsky

Bliatsky, a prominent Belarusian human rights activist, is the fourth laureate to win the Nobel Peace Prize behind bars.

The founder of major rights group Vyasna has been at the forefront of efforts to document abuses by the government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, described in the West as Europe’s last dictator.

Bliatsky, 60, was jailed in July 2021 following massive street protests over a national vote that put Lukashenko in power for a sixth term the previous year.

His organization documented the use of torture against political prisoners by Belarusian authorities and provided support to jailed protesters and their families.

Human rights activist Ales Bilyatsky, founder of the organization Viasna (Belarus).
Human rights activist Ales Bliatsky receives the 2020 Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, Sweden [File: Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via Reuters]

Shortly before his arrest, Bliatsky denounced the crackdown, saying local authorities were “behaving like an occupation regime”.

Bilyatsky spent three years in prison after being charged with tax evasion in 2011, charges he denies. His supporters consider the arrest an attempt to silence him.

Under Lukashenko’s rule, which began in 1994, the human rights group twice failed to apply for registration.

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Despite the lack of formal recognition, Viasna’s activities have won several international awards, including the US Atlantic Council’s Freedom Award.

Bliatsky was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 and 2007.


One of the oldest and most respected human rights groups in Russia, the memorial was co-founded by physicist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov in 1987 to expose and expose the horrors of Soviet oppression.

The operation was deemed treasonous by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The firm was shut down by court order in December 2021 on the grounds that it violated the “foreign agent” law. It continued to operate without official registration, documenting Russia’s authoritarian past and organizing educational initiatives to raise awareness among the population.

John Rachinsky, representing the Russian Institute Memorial
John Rachinsky, representing the Russian Institute Memorial, delivers his Nobel Prize acceptance speech [Rodrigo Freitas/NTB/Reuters]

According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the memorial’s work is “based on the idea that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new crimes”.

Its human rights center was the subject of a legal battle earlier this year as the government tried to seize it on the grounds that it justified “terrorist activities”.

In 2020, the court increased the sentence of Yuri Dmitriev, the historian who was the chairman of the memorial branch in the Northern Republic of Karelia, from 3.5 to 13 years in prison.

He was found guilty of sexual abuse charges in a sentence widely seen as retaliation after he revealed evidence of a mass grave site used by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s secret police.

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Dmitriev is being held in a Russian penal colony.

Center for Civil Liberties

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, the Center for Civil Liberties has documented war crimes against the civilian population committed in the occupied territories.

In collaboration with international organizations, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), the organization is involved in efforts to document the forced displacement of civilians from occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia.

Under its Euromaidan SOS project, it drew attention to the persecution of local government officials, journalists, religious leaders, volunteers and civil society activists in Russian-controlled areas.

Oleksandra Matvychuk, representing the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties (CCL).
Oleksandra Matvychuk, representing the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), delivers her Nobel Prize acceptance speech [Rodrigo Freitas/NTB/Reuters]

Founded in 2007, the firm draws on its decades of experience in filing cases of illegal imprisonment and other abuses. When Russia unilaterally annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the group began documenting the disappearances of Kremlin opponents, including journalists and activists.

In its early years, the Center for Civil Liberties pressured Ukrainian authorities to ensure the country developed from the rule of law into a full-fledged democracy.

Ukraine’s accession to the ICC was a key objective at The Hague. Since February 20, 2014, the government has accepted ICC jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed on Ukrainian territory on an open basis.


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