Sakharov Prize laureates call on Europeans to vote and defend democracy 

Press Releases 

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Oleksandra Matviichuk and Lorent Saleh are among the Sakharov laureates calling on citizens to vote in the European elections.

In a #UseYourVote campaign video, recent Sakharov Prize laureates and their teams share messages with EU citizens ahead of the 6 - 9 June European elections.

"We are losing freedom in the world. Use your vote to defend democracy, use your voice for those who cannot", said Oleksandra Matviichuk, 2022 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Laureate and Chair of the Center for Civil Liberties, an NGO recording war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, which was awarded the 2022 Nobel peace prize.

"Dear fellow citizens of Europe, in Europe you have a precious gift: the power to elect your leaders and shape your future", underlines Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, one of the 2020 Sakharov Prize laureates.

"Democracy is a system that is difficult to build, yet also very easy to lose", adds Lorent Saleh, former political prisoner, 2017 Sakharov Prize Laureate representing the democratic opposition in Venezuela.

The video also features Leonid Volkov, former Chief of staff of Alexei Navalny, 2021 Sakharov Prize laureate, who died in prison in Russia on 16 February 2024, and was one of the strongest oppositional voices to Vladimir Putin; members of the Sakharov Fellowship network, like the fashion designer Louise Xin (Sweden) also share their message with EU citizens.


The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest tribute paid by the European Union to human rights work. It recognises individuals, groups and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to protecting freedom of thought. Through the prize and its associated network, the EU assists laureates, who are supported and empowered in their efforts to defend their causes.