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Sakharov Prize awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus (Brussels, 16-12-2020)

At the end of an exceptional year, the Sakharov Prize was exceptionally awarded in Brussels, to 6 members of the democratic opposition in Belarus (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, also representing her husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Volha Kavalkova, Veranika Tsapkala, Ales Bialiatski, Siarhei Dyleuski and Stsiapan Putsila), and 2 representatives of laureates (Maria Adamovic, wife of Mikola Statkevich, and Tatiana Khomich, sister of Maryia Kalesnikava). Svetlana Alexievich followed the ceremony remotely.

Unfortunately, three of the 10 laureates representing the democratic opposition in Belarus, were not able to accept the prize in person due to being imprisoned in Belarus: Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Mikola Statkevich and Maryia Kalesnikava. Both the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for their release during their respective speeches at the award ceremony held this year in Brussels instead of Strasbourg, due to the covid19.

The European Parliament organised a rich program for the laureates in cooperation with the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU. Representatives of the opposition were able to meet with all the political groups in the EP, MEPs from foreign affairs, development and human rights committees, EU commissioners, as well as representatives of Belarussian diaspora, and took part in meetings with the media, youth and social media audience on Facebook live.

The European Parliament reiterated that it will continue to support the demands of the democratic opposition in Belarus for fair and transparent elections and join forces with the EU countries and institutions in putting pressure on the Belarussian authorities.

President Sassoli also greeted the other finalists who joined the ceremony remotely, the Guapinol activists and representatives of Berta Caceres from Honduras, and Najeeb Michael, Archbishop of Mosul in Iraq.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: 'Continue supporting Belarus in the pursuit of freedom'

Recording of a video message by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of Belarus opposition, ahead of the award ceremony of the Sakharov Prize to be held at the European Parliament on 16 December 2020

In the message, Ms Tsikhanouskaya says what freedom of thought means to her and other members of the democratic opposition in Belarus, laureates of the 2020 Sakharov Prize. She urges EU to continue supporting the opposition in their fight for shared values.
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