Nobel Prize for activists in Kyiv, Minsk and Moscow

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to human rights activists in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine: Ales Bialiatski, currently imprisoned in Belarus, the Memorial organisation, recently dissolved and banned by the Russian state, and the Ukrainian Centre for Civil Liberties. What message does this send?

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Libertatea (RO) /

Peoples can't be divided into good and evil

Commenting in Libertatea, Ukrainian-born writer Vasile Ernu applauds the decision to give the prize to all three sides:

“This is one of the smartest and most accurate decisions in combating the attempts to divide peoples into the good and the evil in general. And it comes at a moment when it is important to counter the inhuman, currently fashionable discourse that holds that there are no good, decent and important people among 'evil peoples'. The decision shows us that there are not just individuals but also organisations, organised groups, that stand up for rights in authoritarian, dictatorial countries and have the strength to fight for freedom and peace in the midst of war.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A symbol of hope

This is an expression of solidarity with struggling human rights organisations, notes NRC Handelsblad:

“The Nobel Committee has acknowledged the courage and assertiveness needed in the fight against these autocrats [Putin and Lukashenka]. All three laureates are under severe pressure at the moment and need moral support. ... It would probably be wise not to entertain the illusion that this acknowledgement will actually change anything. ... But that does not diminish the importance of the Nobel Prize. After all, it is above all a worldwide, urgently needed symbol of hope.”

Konstantin Sonin (RU) /

The Kremlin cannot erase Memorial

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation Memorial is banned in Russia. Economics professor Konstantin Sonin explains on Facebook that this is no contradiction:

“As is well known, the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously. ... In awarding the prize to Memorial, the committee has stressed that there can be no doubt that Memorial still exists. ... Putin's pseudo-legalism - with which arbitrary and illegal decisions are declared 'legal' through a bit of paperwork - has penetrated deep into the minds of Russian citizens. ... In principle, however, no state organ either in Russia or elsewhere could decide that Memorial does not exist. For that to be the case, one would have to kill not only the current employees but also all those who hold remembrance, Russia, justice and freedom dear.”