Nobel Peace Prize: Mixed reactions in Ukraine over joint award with Russia and Belarus activists

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By Euronews
The logo of the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties is displayed next to previous years winners' pictures at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, 7 October, 2022.
The logo of the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties is displayed next to previous years winners' pictures at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, 7 October, 2022.   -   Copyright  Rodrigo Freitas/NTB Scanpix via AP

The announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to jailed Belarus rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian group Memorial and the Ukrainian organisation Center for Civil Liberties, has provoked mixed reviews among world leaders, officials and human rights groups.

In a tweet, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen praised the "outstanding courage of the women and men standing against autocracy".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

But there were conflicting emotions among Ukrainian voices.

Kyiv's ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk described the inclusion of Russia and Belarus as "truly devastating".

Andrij Melnyk, Ukraine's ambassador to Germany

While Anna Trushova, communications manager at Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties, said they were thrilled to receive the recognition.

"When we found out the news, we were stupefied. It was a great start to our day. We didn't expect it. We consider this prize as a respectable recognition of our activity", she said. 

The wife of winner Ales Bialiatski, a imprisoned Belarusian human rights activist -- and founder of the Viasna Human Rights Centre, Ales Bialiatski said in a Telegram post that she felt "happy" for the "unexpected" prize which she sees as a "reward for his hard work".

Belarus' opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya also welcomed the announcement -- calling the prize "an important recognition for all Belarusians fighting for freedom and democracy".  She urged all political prisoners to be "released without delay".

"Ales Bialiatski now is in prison for more than one year and he is suffering a lot in punishment cells in prison. But there are thousands of other people who are detained because of their political views", said Tsikhanouskaya.

Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Belarus' opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya delivers a speech at the Warsaw Security Forum in Warsaw, PolandMichal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

A spokesperson for Russia's Memorial Human Rights Defense Center said that the award serves as evidence that the work it is doing is worthwhile.

"This for us, this is a sign that our work, whether it is recognised by Russian authorities or not, it is important. It is important for the world. It is important for people in Russia," said board member of the Memorial Human Rights Defense Center, Tatyana Glushkova.

Memorial were awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2009. But Russian authorities ordered its umbrella organisation Memorial International to close last year -- accusing it of breaching the country's foreign agent law.