In a highly symbolic choice in favor of "peaceful coexistence", the Nobel Peace Prize winner on Friday crowned a trio of "human rights champions" in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, three of the main players in a tainted Ukrainian conflict. of atrocities.
The prestigious prize was jointly awarded to Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski, in prison in his country, to the Russian NGO Memorial - hit by a dissolution order from the Russian authorities - and to the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties which works to document "Russian war crimes" in the ongoing conflict.
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honor three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the three neighboring countries of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine", declared its president Berit Reiss-Andersen.
The committee therefore, as expected, wanted to mark the occasion in the face of the war in Ukraine which plunged Europe into the most serious security crisis since the Second World War.
But he was careful not to criticize head-on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had launched the invasion of his Ukrainian neighbor on February 24.
Asked whether it was a poisoned gift for the Kremlin strongman who is celebrating his 70th birthday today, Ms Reiss-Andersen said the award was not directed at him but that his regime "authoritarian", like that of Belarus, had to end the repression.
The Belarusian regime did not appreciate this choice. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of the prize, "turns over in his grave", reacted his diplomacy.
Ms. Reiss-Andersen urged Minsk to release Ales Beliatski, founder of the Human Rights Center Viasna (“Spring”). The 60-year-old activist was again thrown into prison during the massive protests against the re-election, deemed fraudulent by Westerners, of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in 2020.
In prison since July 2021, Mr. Beliatski is the fourth personality in history to be crowned with the Nobel Peace Prize in detention after the Chinese Liu Xiaobo, the Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi and the German Carl von Ossietzky.
Bringing together tens of thousands of demonstrators for months, the protest movement was harshly subdued: mass arrests, torture and forced exile...
In power since 1994 and supported for a long time by Moscow, Mr. Lukashenko has made his country one of the very few allies of Russia in its offensive against Ukraine.
On Friday, Mr. Beliatski's wife said she was overwhelmed with “emotion” and “grateful. In exile, Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, generally considered the real winner of the 2020 election, welcomed the recognition of a "fight for freedom".
Founded in 1989 by another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Andrei Sakharov, at the time of perestroika, Memorial has established itself as a key player in the field of rights in Russia, shedding light on Stalinist crimes, then on the abuses committed in Chechnya or by Russian paramilitaries in Syria.
Until the Russian judiciary ordered its dissolution last winter for violations of a controversial law on "foreign agents" amid an increased crackdown on dissenting voices in the country.
Last year, the Nobel had already crowned an itchy hair from the Kremlin, the journalist Dmitri Mouratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta who also saw his license revoked.
"This year we were in a situation with a war in Europe, which is extremely unusual, but also facing a war that has global effects for people all over the planet," the committee chairperson herself noted. Nobel, referring to "the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and food shortages".
"So it's a very dark backdrop and there's no sign of immediate peace," she said.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)