Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, Russian organisation Memorial and Ukrainian group Center for Civil Liberties won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, highlighting the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
The award, the first since Russia’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine, has echoes of the Cold War era, when prominent Soviet dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn won Nobels for peace or literature.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine,” said Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen.
She called on Belarus to release Byalyatski from prison and said the prize was not against Putin.
“We always give the prize for something and to something and not against someone,” she told reporters.
Belarusian security police in July last year raided offices and homes of lawyers and human rights activists, detaining Byalyatski and others in a new crackdown on opponents of Lukashenko.
Authorities had moved to shut down non-state media outlets and human right groups after mass protests the previous August against a presidential election the opposition said was rigged.
“The (Nobel) Committee is sending a message that political freedoms, human rights and active civil society are part of peace,” Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told Reuters.—Agencies