kyiv (HPD) — A day after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize along with other human rights activists in Belarus and Russia, the director of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties praised the work of the other laureates, but cautioned against all three must be grouped together in a Cold War narrative.
“We do not see – and we must not see – this award … as a Soviet narrative about sister nations,” Oleksandra Matviychuk told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital of kyiv on Saturday. “This is a story of fighting a common enemy.”
Matvuychuk made his remarks a day after some Ukrainians expressed mixed reactions to the Nobel committee’s decision to award the Peace Prize to his organization along with imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski and to Memorial, the world’s largest human rights group. known from Russia.
The Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties was founded in 2007 and defends human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the panel decided to honor “three extraordinary defenders of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence.”
Some Ukrainians expressed resentment at what they saw as Ukraine’s lumping in the same category as Russia and Belarus, whose territory has been used by Moscow to wage its war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak mocked the award in a tweet on Friday, noting that the committee had “an interesting take on the word ‘peace’.”
Russian and Belarusian human rights defenders “are fighting for the rights of people under dictatorships,” while in Ukraine, groups like the Center for Civil Liberties are documenting “the war crimes of those dictatorships, because missiles fly to Ukraine from Belarus and Russia,” Ukrainian journalist Anastasia Magazova wrote on Twitter.
“Despite all the merits of the Russian and Belarusian laureates, Ukrainians do not want the fight for human rights in the three countries to be perceived equally,” wrote Magazova, who has covered Ukraine for German and Ukrainian publications since 2014.
But Matviychuk, the director of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, on Saturday rejected the idea that conferring the award on representatives of all three countries at the same time undermines its importance.
The award, “which belongs to all people in Ukraine who fight for freedom and democracy,” is a symbol of the fight “for their freedoms and ours,” he said, alluding to a phrase often repeated by Soviet dissidents. .
Associated Press writer Hanna Arhirova contributed to this report from kyiv, Ukraine.