ES Awards Belarus Freedom Fighters


On October 22, 2020, the European Parliament‘s prestigious Andrej Sakharov award was given to the Belarus opposition, led by Svetlana Cichnouskaja, currently living in Lithuania. Recognized opposition leaders are former presidential candidate S. Cichanouskaja, writer, Nobel literature laureate Svetlana Aleksijevich, activists Maryja Kalesnikava, Volha Kavalkova, Veranika Capkala, Siarhej Cichanouski, Alesis Bialiacki, Siarhej Dyleuski, Sciapan Pucila, Mikalaj Statkevičius.

The annual prize, named after USSR dissident Andrej Sakharov, is awarded to individuals having meaningfully contributed to the struggle for human rights in defense of freedom of thought.  The award was established in 1988 by the European Parliament to honour individuals and organizations who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms against repression and misinformation.

Earlier, Norwegian parlamentarian G. Toskedal nominated three Belarusian opposition leaders for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing peaceful protests against Aleksander Lukashenko‘s regime. Christian-Democrat party representative G. Toskedal revealed to the daily “Vart Land” that he had nominated Svetlana Cichanouskaja, Maryja Kalesnikava and Veranika Capkala “for fighting for conscientious elections and their inspiring peaceful opposition to the illegal Belarusian regime”. On August 18 tens of thousands of Belarusians took to the streets of Minsk and other cities to demonstrate for weeks against Lukashenko, ignoring the government‘s threats of shooting demonstrators. The protests were sparked by the August 9 election, which Lukashenko declared he had won. Cichanouskaja, who was granted asylum in Lithuania after the election, urged Lukashenko to step down by October 25, warning of a nation-wide strike if he refused.

Norway‘s Nobel Institute accepts nominations until January 31 of a given year from qualified parties. G. Toskedal is one such person, being a Norwegian parliament member. In September, two other legislators from Sweden and Norway announced their nomination of US president Donald Trump as candidate for the 2021 Peace Prize. This year‘s Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme.