The European Parliament on Wednesday, Oct 19, awarded the annual Sakharov Prize for human rights to the “brave” people of Ukraine for resisting the Russian invasion.

“This award is for those Ukrainians fighting on the ground, for those who have been forced to flee, for those who have lost relatives and friends, for all those who stand up and fight for who and what they believe in,” said Parliament president Roberta Metsola.

“I know that the brave people of Ukraine will not give up, and neither will we,” she added.

The Ukrainian people are represented “by their president Volodymyr Zelensky, their elected representatives and civil society”, the Maltese MEP said.

In the face of Russia’s “acts of pure terror” in Ukraine, the choice of the Ukrainian people was achieved by consensus among the European Parliament’s political groups, she said.


The two other finalists included detained Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is held in a high-security British jail as he battles an American demand for his extradition to face trial for divulging US military secrets about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other one was Colombia’s Truth Commission, a body started in 2018 that seeks to shed light on atrocities committed during Colombia’s five-decade conflict that ended in 2016.

The Sakharov Prize, set up in 1988 and named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded every year to those fighting for human rights or democracy.

Last year’s winner was Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition activist and outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin who survived a 2020 poisoning with the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent.

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