The people of Ukraine represented by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other leaders have been awarded the 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola announced.
Formally the winner is “the brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders and civil society”. There were two other finalists nominated: Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks and The Truth Commission in Colombia.
The decision about the award is taken by decision by Parliament’s President and political group leaders.
“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 what they believe in. I know that the brave people of Ukraine will not give up and neither will we, Metsola said.
Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine is inflicting enormous costs on the Ukrainian people. They are not only fighting to protect their homes, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, but they are also defending freedom, democracy, the rule of law and European values on the battlefields “against a brutal regime that seeks to undermine our democracy, weaken and divide our Union”, say MEPs in a statement.
The nomination highlights the efforts of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy together with the role of individuals, representatives of civil society initiatives, and state and public institutions including the State Emergency Services of Ukraine, Yulia Pajevska, founder of the evacuation medical unit Angels of Taira, Oleksandra Matviychuk, human rights lawyer and chairwoman of the organisation Center for Civil Liberties, the Yellow Ribbon Civil Resistance Movement, and Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, which is currently under Russian occupation.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.
Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.