KYIV, Ukraine — Human rights advocates in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus will be honored Saturday at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.
Winners — Memorial, a Russian organization; Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine; and Ales Bialiatski, a jailed Belarusian activist — became a symbol of resistance and accountability during the largest land war in Europe since World War II, started by the invasion Russia’s Ukraine Strategy.
They have also emerged as some of the most obvious challengers to widespread misinformation and harmful myths disseminated by authoritarian leaders.
The Nobel committee’s decision to create a Ukrainian civil society organization with human rights defenders from Russia and Belarus — two of the country’s invaders — prompts some initial backlash in Ukraine when the award was announced in October. Some saw it as an insult to those who have worked to protect Ukrainians since Russia invaded the country in February.
Established in 2007, the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine is selected along with the Memorial and Mr. Bialiatski for actions that “demonstrate the importance of civil society to peace and democracy.” Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, issued a harsh criticism of the Nobel committee shortly after the award was announced, saying they had an “interesting interpretation of the word ‘peace’.” “.
“Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations can oppose this war,” he said in a statement.
The Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said before the ceremony that the prizes had been awarded. to send a signal that the conflict in Ukraine must end.
“Sometimes the effort for peace lies in civil society, not just in the ambitions of the state,” she said. “Peace is a desire and achievement that comes with a value that all laureates strive for: Addressing atrocities, war crimes, and upholding the rule of law.”
She says that disregard for those values is at the heart of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Precisely in this moment, this is a very important reminder,” she said.