Belarus Claims Alfred Nobel Is 'Turning in His Grave'

European leaders, meanwhile, praise recognition for rights activists in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 8, 2022 1:20 PM CDT
Belarus Slams 'Politicized' Nobel Peace Prize Decision
Managers of the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Officials in Europe praised the awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to activists standing up for human rights and democracy in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, while authorities in Belarus scorned the move. "I hope the Russian authorities read the justification for the peace prize and take it to heart," Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said after the Nobel Committee awarded the 2022 prize to imprisoned Belarus rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian rights group Memorial, and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, which is focusing on documenting war crimes. French President Emmanuel Macron was among the world leaders who quickly hailed the laureates, tweeting that their prize "pays homage to unwavering defenders of human rights in Europe," the AP reports.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the three groups "fully deserved" the awards. "The bravery, passion, and clarity with which (they) are fighting for freedom and justice deserves the highest respect," he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union leaders in Prague. Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian journalist and writer who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature, called Bialiatski "a legendary figure." She added that Bialiatski is "seriously ill" and needs medical treatment, but is "unlikely to be freed from behind bars." Belarus' Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, denounced the Nobel Committee's decision to award the prize to Bialiatski. Spokesman Anatoly Glaz said recent peace decisions of the Nobel committee "have been so politicized, that, I'm sorry, Alfred Nobel got tired of turning in his grave."

Olav Njolstad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, dismissed the criticism. "I'm quite sure we understand Alfred Nobel's will and intentions better than the dictatorship in Minsk," he said. Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, took issue with the prize being shared with "representatives of two countries that attacked a third one." But Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian lawyer who heads the Center for Civil Liberties, said the award was for the groups, not the countries they were based in. She told Der Spiegel that her co-laureates had spoken out clearly against Russia's hostility toward Ukraine since 2014. "They always called things by their name," she said. "That's why Ales Bialiatski is in prison now and Memorial is banned." She added, "It's not about the countries, but about the people who are jointly standing up to evil."

(More Nobel Peace Prize stories.)

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