Belarusian opposition wins EU’s Sakharov prize

1 month ago 24

The democratic opposition in Belarus has won this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament President David Sassoli announced Thursday.

“They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat — and this is the truth,” Sassoli said in a statement. He encouraged the Belarusian opposition to continue their fight for freedom, adding: “We are by your side.”

Protests erupted in Belarus following a disputed presidential election in August that Alexander Lukashenko claimed to have won with 80 percent of the vote, leading to a brutal crackdown from the authorities, including the arrest of opposition figures. 

“The people of Belarus deserve the Sakharov Prize, because Belarusians of all generations have revolted against the Lukashenko dictatorship,” said Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete, a member of the European People’s Party, which co-nominated the Belarusian opposition for the award. “Violence will not stop the Belarusian people in their demands for free elections and democratic change.”

Polish MEP Robert Biedroń said he welcomed the” clear sign of the European Parliament’s solidarity with the people of Belarus who are peacefully protesting for freedom and democracy.”

The other nominees were the Archbishop of Mosul; Polish LGBTI activists; and environmental campaigners in Honduras.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded by the European Parliament every year in memory of Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

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