Sakharov Prize goes to Belarusian opposition

The European Parliament's renowned Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has gone to the opposition in Belarus in 2020. The award honours the Coordination Council, activists like Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and committed personalities like Svetlana Alexievich, the Parliament declared. Europe's press questions whether the 50,000 euros in prize money are a significant show of support.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

EU on the right track

When it comes to foreign policy the MEPs have only this symbolic language as a means to make their position clear, Deutschlandfunk comments:

“Unfortunately the Parliament can't impose any sanctions. Otherwise it would have done so much earlier. Yet three weeks ago the European Council overcame Cyprus's temporary blockade and issued restrictive measures against 40 people from Lukashenka's entourage. If the situation in Belarus doesn't change for the better, others will be added to this list - as will the country's leader Lukashenka himself. It was a laborious process, it took a long time, but the EU is at least on the right track here.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Nothing but charity

Echo of Moskow finds it cynical that otherwise the EU isn't so much as showing the most basic support for the opposition:

“This award looks like a mockery in the form of charity: Here - how many of you are there, by the way? - take this bundle of euros and our endless admiration. Treat yourselves, we're with you in spirit. That's it ... And the laureates are also happy. Every gesture and every bit of attention they get is important to them, because the protests aren't going anywhere and it's always nice to imagine that they have a big, powerful body supporting them. Yes, the West is big, but it's also cynical. It chums up to dictators and does business with them.”

Lrt (LT) /

At some point the Kremlin will reshuffle the cards

Even if the prize could give the popular uprising announced by the opposition if Lukashenka doesn't resign by Sunday a boost, democracy fans shouldn't expect too much, political scientist Gintautas Mažeikis warns on Lrt:

“There will definitely be a moment when the Kremlin actively becomes involved - directly or indirectly, and then we will see different scenarios. ... Will the well-networked civil society, which is used to simple demands for solidarity, be able to react sensibly? To the diplomatic challenges, parliamentary negotiations, secret Kremlin intrigues, in-fighting, secret deals with potential traitors in dictatorial circles? It is very doubtful that we will see a glorious end to the revolution.”