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The European Parliament held a ceremony to award the Sakharov Prize to the “brave Ukrainian people”

Representatives of the Ukrainian people receive the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament at an award ceremony in Strasbourg. (14 December 2022)
Representatives of the Ukrainian people receive the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament at an award ceremony in Strasbourg. (14 December 2022)

The Ukrainian representative received the Sakharov Award for Freedom of Thought 2022 from the European Parliament in the name of the “brave Ukrainian people”. At the moment, the Ukrainian people are resisting the invading Russian army.

European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola mentioned a passage from Sakharov at the beginning of the ceremony to announce the award in Strasbourg, France, on Wednesday (14 December): “A country that does not respect the rights of its own citizens will not respect the rights of its neighbors.”

“This year, we gather together to pay tribute to our 2022 Sakharov Prize winners – the brave Ukrainian people represented by their president, elected leaders, and civil society – who have fought hard and sacrificed so much for their freedom and our values,”

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky spoke at the award ceremony via video link. “The purpose of Russia’s war on terrorism is to deprive Europe of Ukraine and freedom,” he said. He also said that Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion is to prevent Russia from launching similar attacks on Ukraine and Europe in the future.

“After the victory of Ukraine and all Europeans, there will be no more attempts to carry out a genocidal policy against people in Ukraine and across Europe,” Zelensky said. We must and will provide a new security architecture for global freedom and international law and order. I believe that this is part of our moral responsibility.

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He also called on Europe to help set up a tribunal to ensure that Russian officials guilty of “crimes of aggression” receive a fair trial.

Several Ukrainian citizens represented their country at the ceremony, including veteran volunteer Yulia M. Taila Paevska, the mayor of the city of Melitopol, currently controlled by Russian forces, Ivan Fedorov, and human rights defender Alexandra Matvichuk and others.

The prize includes $53,240. The prize money will be given to representatives of Ukrainian civil society. The European Parliament was announced in October this year as the winner of this year’s Sakharov Prize.

Named after Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the annual prize was established by the European Parliament in 1988 to recognize individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Past recipients of the Sakharov Prize include Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Alexander Dubcek of Slovakia, individuals and organizations such as the United Nations, the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Chinese dissidents Wei Jingsheng and Hu Jia, and Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur political prisoner who remains in prison.

The 2021 Sakharov Prize was awarded to imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny for his efforts to challenge the dictatorship of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Navalny, who is currently in prison, said the charges against him were politically motivated.

(This article references a Reuters report.)

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