MEPs particularly highlighted the role of women in the democratic movement of Belarus, while Tikhanovskaya herself said that the prize belongs to all Belarusians.
The democratic opposition of Belarus, represented by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and 9 other people, was awarded the Sakharov Prize. It was announced on Thursday, October 22, by the speaker of the European Parliament David Sassoli. “Large-scale protests that have been going on for 11 weeks in the squares of Belarus have shocked the world. While our admiration for the people of Belarus is growing, we are more and more upset by the violent suppression of Lukashenko by the (regime – Ed.),” Sassoli said. He stressed that the time has come for the government in Minsk to listen to the voice of the people. The speaker thanked the democratic Belarusian opposition for defending freedom of thought and speech: “Violence will never overcome the truth. Our message to you, dear winners – stay strong and do not stop your struggle. Know that we will support you.
“Democratic opposition of Belarus, represented by the Coordinating Council, the initiative of brave women, as well as politicians and civil society activists” was nominated for the Sakharov Prize by three largest factions of the European Parliament – the European People’s Party (EPP), Social Democrats and “Renew Europe.
The decision to award the Sakharov Prize to a group of 10 people representing the Belarusian opposition was taken earlier by the Presidium of the European Parliament, which, in addition to the speaker, includes the chairmen of seven factions. The award ceremony is to be held on December 16 at the plenary session in Strasbourg. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, trips to the plenary sessions in the French city were refused, and now they are held virtually in Brussels.
Who exactly represents the Belarusian opposition
The democratic opposition of Belarus is represented by ten people. They are former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her husband, blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky, Nobel laureate Svetlana Aleksiyevich, activists Maria Kolesnikova, Veronika Tsepkalo and Olga Kovalkova. They are also Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Belyatski, member of the Stachkoma of Minsk Tractor Works Sergei Dylevski, politician and presidential candidate in 2010 Nikolai Statkevich and founder of the Telegram channel Nexta Stepan Putilo.
During the nomination of candidates for the current Sakharov Prize there was a curiosity: the democratic opposition of Belarus was nominated twice. The second time was the “European Conservatives and Reformists” faction, which could not agree on the wording of the nomination with the three largest factions. In this case, the opposition was represented by one Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. But the short list included a group of 10 people representing the Belarusian opposition. Among the three finalists, she was joined by a group of environmental activists from Honduras and Archbishop Michael Moussa of Mosul Najib in Iraq.