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Nobel Peace Prize awarded to human rights campaigners in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus

The Russian human rights organization Memorial has been handed the Nobel Peace Prize after Russia declared it a foreign agent and had it dissolved by the Supreme Court.

The other laureates include Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, and the Center for Civil Liberties from Ukraine.

The Human Rights Center Memorial is a member of the International Historical and Educational, Human Rights and Charity Society Memorial. The Human Rights Center considers its mission to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms - both in the Russian Federation and abroad.

The Russian authorities recognized the Human Rights Center Memorial as a foreign agent in 2014, and the International Memorial in 2016. The Moscow Prosecutor's Office filed a lawsuit with the Moscow City Court to dissolve the Human Rights Center, and the General Prosecutor's Office filed a lawsuit with Russia's Supreme Court to dissolve the International Memorial.

It was the organization's human rights activities that led to its liquidation by the authorities. According to the prosecution, the center “has demonstrated persistent disregard for the Russian Constitution and laws, violated the rights of citizens and the right of access to information. The organization's lists of political prisoners “are intended to form a negative view of the Russian judicial system,” and “Memorial's “support” of protests is aimed at “destabilizing” the situation in Russia, according to the Russian prosecutor's office. The historians were also charged with “spreading defamatory information about the Soviet authorities.”

Ales Bialiatski, Belarusian human rights activist, founder of the Belarusian human rights center Viasna, another recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is currently in a Belarusian detention center. He and his associates were arrested back in July 2021. Viasna helped collect information about those detained by security forces at protests and sent to detention centers; the human rights activists accumulated information about those who were tortured, helped detainees and those arrested.

Another Nobel laureate, the Center for Civil Liberties, a Ukrainian human rights organization, was founded in 2007 by human rights activist Oleksandra Matviychuk, a recipient of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Democracy Defender Award. The Center works to promote democratic rights and freedoms in Ukraine and Europe, as well as to educate future human rights defenders and civil society activists. The Center's human rights activists also monitor the fate of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, they actively participated in filmmaker Oleg Sentsov’s and his associate Alexander Kolchenko’s release from a Russian prison.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was handed to Russian Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov and US-Filipino journalist Maria Ressa “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a prerequisite for democracy and peace.”

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