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Nobel Peace Prize: award to Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian activists 'sends important message' to world

Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, Russia’s Memorial and Belarusian Ales Bialiatski all recognised

Responding to news that human rights organisations from Ukraine (Center for Civil Liberties) and Russia (Memorial) and the Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski have been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

“The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to human rights defenders and organisations from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine highlights the vital role they play in defending human rights in their countries and the wider region.


“The Nobel Committee is sending an important message to the world - that it must support human rights defenders who have shown an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power in their countries.”

The winners

Ales Bialiatski, the chairman and founder of the Human Rights Centre Viasna, has been held in a pre-trial detention centre in Belarus since July 2021. Along with his fellow colleagues - Viasna vice-chair Valyantsin Stefanovich and the organisation’s lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich - Bialiatski is falsely charged with “the smuggling of large sums of money and financing group activities that grossly violated public order” in apparent retaliation for his human rights work. Between 2011 and 2014, Bialiatski served a sentence on trumped-up charges of tax evasion - then, as now, Amnesty recognised him as a prisoner of conscience. 


Memorial is one of the oldest and most respected human rights groups in Russia, founded in 1988 and having the Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov as its first chair. Memorial was liquidated by a court order last December after supposedly violating the country’s notorious “foreign agents” law. Memorial continues to operate without official registration. 


The Center for Civil Liberties, founded in Ukraine in 2007, is currently playing a vital role in efforts to identify and document war crimes committed in Ukrainian territory under Russian control - both during this year’s full-scale Russian invasion and occupation, as well as Russia’s seizing of Crimea in 2014.


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