Belarussian democratic opposition receives 2020 Sakharov Prize

2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was received by the Coordination Council of the Belorussian opposition, an initiative of brave women, and political and civil society figures.

Main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
Main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

The 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was received by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women, and political and civil society figures.

During the ceremony, exceptionally held in Brussels, President Sassoli said: “The whole world is aware of what is happening in your country. We see your courage. We can see the courage of women. We see your suffering. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and determination to live in a democratic country inspires us.”

“I would like to pay special tribute to our laureates and the strength that you displayed,” he added.

Accepting the prize, the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said: “Each and every Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protest against violence and lawlessness...is a hero. Each of them is an example of courage, compassion, and dignity.”

“Belarusians have been marching every week since the 9 August election. They march for their future and the future of those who cannot be there. They march for the freedom and dignity of Belarusians, of Europeans, yours and ours. Without free Belarus, Europe is not fully free either. (...) I have only one wish this year. I want every Belarusian who is now in jail or was forced to live in exile to return home,”

The winner was chosen by Parliament’s political leaders on 22 October 2020.

The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women. They are main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava, and political activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala. The political and civil society figures are video blogger and political prisoner Siarhei Tsikhanouski, founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation ‘Viasna’ Ales Bialiatski , Siarhei Dyleuski, founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA Stsiapan Putsila, and political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election Mikola Statkevich.

EP President David Sassoli addressing the plenary
EP President David Sassoli addressing the plenary

In a resolution adopted in September 2020, the European Parliament condemned the Belarusian authorities for their violent repression of peaceful protests.

Parliament is organising a fact-finding mission about Belarus 18- 21 December to determine whether further support is needed for the democratic opposition, in line with a resolution voted on 26 November 2020.

The prize consists of a certificate and €50,000.

More in Europe