It should not come as much of a surprise that the Nobel peace Prize was awarded today to a Ukrainian think tank that has been documenting atrocities committed by Russia, to Belarus human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski and to the Russian human rights organization Memorial.
The Ukrainian group, Center for Civil Liberties, has “engaged in efforts to identify and document Russian war crimes against the Ukrainian civilian population” since the invasion was launched in February, the committee said.
“In collaboration with international partners, the center is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes.”
Memorial was founded in 1987 and, after the fall of the Soviet Union, became one of Russia’s most prominent human rights watchdogs. It has worked to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era.
The group was shut down by Russian courts in the past year, in a major blow to the country’s hollowed-out civil rights landscape.
Bialiatski, meanwhile, has documented human rights abuses in Belarus since the 1980s. He founded the organization Viasna, or Spring, in 1996 after a referendum that consolidated the authoritarian powers of president and close Russia ally Alexander Lukashenko.
The peace prize has often been awarded not only to recognize past efforts, but also to encourage continuing efforts by activists in difficult situations. The prize awarded to Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov is a good example.