Oslo — Ales Bialiatski, a human rights activist currently jailed in Belarus, along with who human rights organizations, the group Memorial in Russia, and the Ukraine Center for Civil Liberties, were announced Friday as the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway.
All of the organizations have worked to highlight rights abuses in Ukraine, Russia, and Russia’s close ally Belarus amid President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right 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, told reporters.
Soon after the winners were announced, the Nobel Committee called for the release of Bialiatski, who is currently imprisoned in his native Belarus on tax evasion charges.
“Our message is an urge to the authorities in Belarus to release Mr. Bialiatski and we do hope this will happen and that he can come to Oslo and receive the honor bestowed upon him,” Reiss-Andersen told reporters.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg congratulated the winners, tweeting that “the right to speak truth to power is fundamental to free and open societies.”
Russian authorities under Putin have cracked down on Memorial, one of Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights organizations. The group’s offices in Moscow were raided in March.
“The police refused to let me and the lawyer in without explanation, and when I tried not to let in the reinforcement officers who arrived in bulletproof vests and masks, they threatened to use force if I did not let them in,” the chairman of International Memorial Yan Rachinsky said at the time. “This is the level of justice today in the capital of Russia.”
The award has often put a spotlight on groups and activists trying to prevent conflicts, alleviate hardship and protect human rights.
Last year’s winners have faced a tough time since receiving the prize. Journalists Dmitry Muratov of Russia and Maria Ressa of the Philippines have been fighting for the survival of their news organizations, defying government efforts to silence them.
They were honored last year for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
This summer, Muratov auctioned off his prize to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees. It fetched $103.5 million, shattering the old record for a Nobel.
A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.
Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics Tuesday. Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialized computing and to encrypt information.
The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.
French author Annie Ernaux won this year’s Nobel Prize in literature Thursday. The panel commended her for blending fiction and autobiography in books that fearlessly mine her experiences as a working-class woman to explore life in France since the 1940s.
The 2022 Nobel Prize in the economics will be announced on Monday.
The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on December 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.
Nobel Peace Prize