Speed Reads

Democracy and Resistance

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to activists in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus

The Nobel Peace Prize was on Friday awarded to Ales Bialiatski, an imprisoned Belarusian human rights advocate; Memorial, a Russian human rights organization; and Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), a Ukrainian human rights organization. Together, the trio have become "symbols of resistance and accountability" during Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, reports The New York Times

Bialiatski helped initiate the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s and founded the organization Viasna, which provided support for jailed demonstrators; the organization has now adopted a broad human rights focus. He's been imprisoned since 2020 for his involvement in demonstrations.

Memorial was first created in the former Soviet Union to ensure victims of communist oppression were remembered. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Memorial became the largest human rights organization in Russia.

CCL was formed in Kyiv in 2007 to advance Ukrainian human rights and democracy. During the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, the organization has worked to "identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population," noted the Norwegian Nobel Committee in a press release. 

Friday's prize serves as a rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the latter of which was re-elected in a 2020 contest widely denounced as fraudulent, and also allowed Belarus to serve as a starting point for Russia's "failed attempt to seize Kyiv," The Washington Post writes. While Europeans have praised the Nobel committee's selection, Belarus has scorned it, notes The Associated Press

The Nobel committee wanted to "honor three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy, and peaceful co-existence," it said in its release.