Reactions poured in Friday after human rights champions Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia’s Memorial group and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Here are some of the responses to a highly symbolic choice of laureates from three nations at the centre of the Ukraine war that provoked one of them — Belarus — to say founder Alfred Nobel must be “turning in his grave”.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen saluted the “outstanding courage” of the Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian rights activists.
“The Nobel Prize committee has recognised the outstanding courage of the women and men standing against autocracy. They show the true power of civil society in the fight for democracy,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.
President Emmanuel Macron hailed the Belarusian, Ukrainian and Russian winners as “unswerving defenders of human rights in Europe”.
“As peacemakers, they can count on France’s support,” he posted on Twitter.
The federal government in Berlin highlighted the three groups’ “exceptional” commitment to democratic development, human rights and civil liberties.
“They have opposed oppression and moves against peaceful forces in civil society such as we are living through in Russia and Belarus in particular.”
A senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky voiced irritation however that the prize was shared with organisations from countries allied against Ukraine: Russia and Belarus.
The “Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive the Nobel Prize together,” presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak said on Twitter.
“Neither Russian nor Belarusian organisations were able to organise resistance to the war,” Podolyak said.
Belarus denounced the Nobel Committee for handing the prestigious peace prize to imprisoned activist Ales Bialiatski, saying its founder Alfred Nobel was “turning in his grave”.
“In recent years, a number of fundamental decisions of the Nobel Committee are so politicised that, excuse me, Alfred Nobel is tormented and turning in his grave,” foreign ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said on Twitter.
Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya paid full tribute to Ales Bialiatski, noting he celebrated his 60th birthday in prison on September 25 as he did his 50th.
The prize was “recognition for all Belarusians fighting for freedom and democracy”, she said.
“His story is the story of our country — a decades-long struggle for freedom. I am incredibly proud that he received the Nobel Peace Prize!” she wrote on Twitter.
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