OSLO, Norway: For this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the recipients from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine shared their visions of a fairer world and denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine during Saturday’s award ceremony.
Oleksandra Matviichuk of Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, commenting on calls for a political compromise that would allow Russia to retain some of the illegally annexed Ukrainian territories, said that “fighting for peace does not mean yielding to the pressure of an aggressor. It means protecting people from this cruelty.”
“Peace cannot be reached by a country under attack laying down its arms,” she said, tremulously. “This would not be peace, but occupation.”
Matviichuk echoed her earlier call for Russia— and Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who provided his country’s territory for Russian troops to invade Ukraine – to face an international tribunal.
“We have to show that the rule of law is important, justice does exist and in a way that doesn’t immediately give people what they want,” she said.
Dzmitry Matviichuk was recently awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Russian human rights group Memorial and Ales Bialiatski, head of the Belarusian human rights group Viasna. He also went on to win another Nobel prize, which will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm.
Mihail Bialiatski, who is in jail in Belarus and facing a possible sentence of 12 years or more, was not allowed to send his speech. When he met with his wife (Natallia Pinchuk) at the award ceremony, he shared a few of his thoughts.
“Belarus has a long-standing tradition of restricting human rights and democratic freedoms,” Bialiatski said in remarks delivered by Pinchuk that referenced a sweeping crackdown on the opposition after massive protests against an August 2020 fraud-tainted vote that Lukashenko used to extend his rule. “This award belongs to all my human rights defender friends, all civic activists, tens of thousands of Belarusians who have gone through beatings, torture, arrests, prison.”
This is the first time a Nobel Prize winner has been awarded while incarcerated.
Speaking, his wife said that Lukashenko is an obedient tool of Putin and the Russian leader is trying to establish his domination all across the former Soviet Union.
“I know exactly what kind of Ukraine would suit Russia and Putin–a dependent dictatorship,” he said. “The same as today’s Belarus, where the voice of the oppressed people is ignored and disregarded.”
The triple peace prize award was seen as a strong rebuke to Putin, not only for his invasion of Ukraine but also for his efforts in suppressing domestic opposition and supporting the brutal dictatorship of Lukashenko.
In December 2021 Russia’s Supreme Court shut down Memorial, a landmark human rights organization that was widely acclaimed for its study of political repression in the Soviet Union.
In November 2012, the Russian government declared the organization a “foreign agent.” The label implies that the organization is being used by a foreign power and leads to strong pejorative connotations that can discredit an organization.
Jan Rachinsky of Memorial said in his speech that “today’s sad state of civil society in Russia is a direct consequence of its unresolved past.”
Mr. Putin also denounced Moscow’s efforts to denigrate the history, statehood, and independence of countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. He said those efforts became an “ideological justification” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“In this madness, one of the first victims was the historical memory of Russia itself,” Rachinsky says. “Now, Russian mass media refer to the unprovoked armed invasion of a neighboring country, the annexation of territories, terror against civilians in the occupied areas, and war crimes as justified by fighting fascism.”
The winners of the recent awards show all agreed that Ukraine was a country in turmoil, but some different opinions were voiced.
Matviichuk said that “the Russian people will be responsible for this disgraceful page of their history.” They have a desire to forcefully restore the former empire.
In response to a question about Russia’s aggression against its neighbor, Rachinsky responded by describing it as “a monstrous burden” but rejected the notion of “national guilt of those who are not responsible for that.”
“Talking about collective guilt is completely abhorrent to the fundamental human rights principles,” he said. “The joint work of the participants of our movement is based on a completely different ideological basis – on the understanding of civic responsibility for the past and for the present.”
News Source – (AP)
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