Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski and human rights teams obtain 2022 Nobel Prize

Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski speaks after he and the Belarusian human rights organization Vyasna were awarded the 2020 Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm December 3, 2020.

Anders Wiklund | AFP | Getty Images

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

Bialiatski, 60, helped ignite the pro-democracy movement that began in Belarus in the 1980s. He has been in prison since 2021 for tax evasion, which is widely believed to be politically motivated. He served a prison sentence on the same charge from October 2011 to June 2014 and was arrested multiple times.

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

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

“Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the center made efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian population,” the committee said.

“The center is at the forefront of bringing criminals to justice for their crimes.”

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

In a press conference, Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said the award was “not addressing [Russian] President Putin … except that his government, like the government in Belarus, represents an authoritarian government that represses human rights defenders.”

She also called for the release of Bialiatski from prison.

Bialiatski’s campaign group Viasna has documented and opposed the use of torture on political prisoners in Belarus.

Alexander Lukashenko has been President of Belarus since 1994, when the country adopted a new constitution after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bialiatski was arrested after widespread protests against Lukashenko’s regime in 2020 and 2021, which were met with violent crackdowns and thousands of arrests.

Belarus is Russia’s only European ally after Ukraine’s unprovoked invasion and also faces Western sanctions.

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five awards awarded by a five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament since 1901. It is designed to honor those who have “brought the greatest benefit to mankind”.

It is not the first time that it has been awarded to multiple award winners. In 2021, the Peace Prize was split between journalist Maria Ressa, co-founder of Philippine news site Rappler, and Dmitry Muratov, a Russian reporter. Both have worked to expose corruption and authoritarianism and have spoken out in favor of freedom of expression.

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature went to French author Annie Ernaux.

Within the natural sciences, the physics prize went to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger for “groundbreaking quantum information science”; the Chemistry Prize was awarded to Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and K. Barry Sharpless for work in click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry; and the Medicine Prize went to Svante Paabo for decoding the Neanderthal genome.

The economy prize, established by the Swedish central bank in 1968, will be announced on Monday.

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