Home / News / Nobel Peace Prize for peacekeepers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus: Who are they?

Nobel Peace Prize for peacekeepers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus: Who are they?

The Nobel Peace Prize winners: Belarusian Ales Bialiatski (L), the Russian human rights organisation Memorial (C) and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties (R) (Illustration credit: Twitter/NobelPrize)Premium
The Nobel Peace Prize winners: Belarusian Ales Bialiatski (L), the Russian human rights organisation Memorial (C) and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties (R) (Illustration credit: Twitter/NobelPrize)

  • One individual and two organisations have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 - Belarusian Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights group, Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation, Center for Civil Liberties

Amid a war that has pushed the world to its edge, there are some who have demonstrated the significance of peace and promoted the fundamental rights of citizens. Their outstanding efforts to keep peace alive have been awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize 2022. Their efforts are not limited to the war but began way back. Human rights advocate Belarusian Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties are the three joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2022. Even if their countries are entangled in war, these laureates represent the civil society in their home countries.

“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy," the head of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said.

This article is an attempt to reflect what Belarus’ Ales Bialiatski, Russia’s Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties have done to keep the peace.

Ales Bialiatski from Belarus

Ales Bialiatski, the head of Belarus rights group Viasna, has won the Nobel Peace Prize 2022 amid the historic demonstrations and a severe crackdown in his ex-Soviet country. Ales Bialiatski was one of the initiators of the democracy movement in Belarus back in the 1980s.

In fact, Ales Bialiatski founded Viasna which translates to Spring in response to the controversial constitutional amendments that gave the president, Alexander Lukashenko, dictatorial powers and that triggered widespread demonstrations.

His organisation helped jailed demonstrators and their families. In the later years, Viasna documented and protested against the authorities’ alleged use of torture against political prisoners.

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Credit: Twitter/NobelPrize

Ales Bialiatski has been arrested several times. Once from 2011 to 2014. He was arrested in 2020 and again in July 2021 on the charges of tax evasion, which several critics of the Belarus government said was a veiled tactic to silence his rebellion. He is still detained without trial.

Ales Bialiatski has described "real terror" taking hold of regional towns and in the capital Minsk as authorities worked to quash dissent. "The goal is very simple -- to retain power at any cost and instill fear in society so that there are no protests against the falsification of these elections," he said.

How is Belarus important in the Russia-Ukraine war? It was Belarus that had allowed Russia to stage part of the invasion of Ukraine from its territory. During the early stages of the war, Belarus gave Russia the shortest possible land route to Kyiv, Ukraine capital.

Russia’s Memorial

Sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski is Russian human rights organisation ‘Memorial’ which was established in 1987 by human rights activists in the former Soviet Union. Memorial was founded in the hope that the victims of the communist regime’s oppression would never be forgotten.

Memorial is based on the notion that confronting past crimes is essential in preventing new ones, the Nobel Committee said. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Memorial became the largest human rights organisation in Russia.

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“In addition to establishing a centre of documentation on victims of the Stalinist era, Memorial compiled and systematised information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia. Memorial became the most authoritative source of information on political prisoners in Russian detention facilities," the committee said.

In December 2021, the Memorial was shut down after it was stamped as a “foreign agent". In 2009, the head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was killed because of this work.

But it refuses to be suppressed.

Like Memorial chairman Yan Rachinsky said, “Nobody plans to give up."

Reacting to the Nobel Peace Prize, Memorial said the award is recognition for colleagues who continue to suffer "unspeakable attacks and reprisals" in Russia.

"It encourages us in our resolve to support our Russian colleagues to continue their work at a new location, despite the forced dissolution of MEMORIAL International in Moscow," Memorial board member Anke Giesen said.

Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties

The Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine was founded in 2007 for the purpose of advancing human rights and democracy in Ukraine.

“The center has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy," the Nobel committee stated, adding, “To develop Ukraine into a state governed by rule of law, Center for Civil Liberties has actively advocated that Ukraine become affiliated with the International Criminal Court."

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Credit: Twitter/NobelPrize

Its role in the war

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Since Russia’s invasion or what President Vladimir Putin called was “special military operation" in Ukraine, Center for Civil Liberties has engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population.

They have collaborated with international partners in an attempt to hold the guilty parties accountable for their crimes in the war-torn Ukraine.

(With agency inputs)

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