Belarusian activist Alice Bialiatsky and human rights groups win the 2022 Nobel Prize

Belarusian human rights activist Alice Bialiatsky speaks after he and Belarusian human rights organization Vjasna receive the 2020 Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm on December 3, 2020.

Anders Weklund | Afp | Getty Images

Belarusian human rights activist Alice Bialiatsky, Russian human rights organization Memorial, and Ukrainian human rights organization, the Center for Civil Liberties, have been awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bialiatsky, 60, helped launch the democratic movement that began in Belarus in the 1980s. He has been imprisoned since 2021 for tax evasion that is widely seen as politically motivated. He served a prison sentence from October 2011 to June 2014 on the same charge and was arrested several times.

The Nobel Committee said he “has devoted his life to promoting democracy and peaceful development in his homeland”.

The Center for Civil Liberties was established in 2007 to support Ukrainian civil society, promote human rights and campaign for full democracy in the country.

“Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the center was engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian population,” the commission said.

“The center plays a pioneering role in holding the perpetrators accountable for their crimes,” he added.

The final beneficiary, the Russian rights group Memorial, was founded in 1987 in the former Soviet Union to honor victims of political persecution.

At a press conference, Nobel Committee Chairman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the award “was not addressed to [Russian] President Putin … except that his government, as with the government in Belarus, represents an authoritarian government that suppresses human rights activists.”

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She also called for Bialiatsky’s release from prison.

Bialiatsky’s campaign group, Vyasna, has documented and spoken out against the use of torture against political prisoners in Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994, when the country instituted a new constitution after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Bialiatsky was arrested after large-scale protests against Lukashenko’s regime in 2020 and 2021, which were met with violent repression and the arrest of thousands.

Belarus is Russia’s only European ally in the wake of its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and it has also faced Western sanctions.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of six prizes awarded each year since 1901 by a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament. It aims to recognize those who have “provided the greatest benefit to mankind”.

This is not the first time it has been given to multiple recipients. In 2021, the Peace Prize was divided between journalists Maria Ressa, co-founder of the Philippine news site Rappler, and Russian reporter Dmitry Muratov. Both worked to expose corruption and authoritarianism and spoke in defense of freedom of expression.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to French author Annie Ernault.

The Physics in Science award went to Alan Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger for their “leadership in quantum information science.” The Chemistry Prize was awarded to Caroline R. Bertozzi, Morten Milldahl, and K. Barry Sharpless for their work in “click” chemistry and orthogonal chemistry; The medicine prize went to Svante Pääbo for decoding the Neanderthal genome.

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The Economics Prize will be announced on Monday.

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