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Nobel Peace Prize honors Belarus activist, rights groups

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a prominent Belarusian human rights activist and two advocacy groups in Russia and Ukraine.

By Stefan J. Bos  

Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, the Russian rights group Memorial, and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties share the Prize.

This year’s award was announced as highlighting the significance of civil society for peace and democracy amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen praised their commitment to values shared by the man who created the Prize, the late Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel.

She said the judges wanted to honor “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy, and peaceful coexistence in the neighboring countries Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.”

Reiss-Andersen noted, “Through their consistent efforts in favor of human values and anti-militarism and principles of law, this year’s laureates have revitalized and honored Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations.”

She added that this vision “is most needed in the world today.”

Putin’s 70th birthday

The Nobel Peace Prize was announced on the 70th birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the West has condemned for ordering Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Yet Reiss-Andersen made it clear that the award was more meant as a message to the government Putin represents and to that of his ally, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko.

“This prize is not addressing President Putin, not for his birthday or in any other sense, except that his government, as the government in Belarus, is representing an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists,” she told reporters in Oslo, Norway.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is arguably one of the most politically contentious in decades.

The award, the first since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, echoes the Cold War era when the Russian-led Soviet Union still existed.

During that time, prominent Soviet dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn won Nobels for peace and literature, respectively.

Source: Vatican News