The honour has gone to detained activist Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia's Memorial group and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties at a time when all three countries are parties to a raging conflict.

Bialiatski is one of the leaders of the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s and has continued to campaign for human rights and civil liberties in the country.
Bialiatski is one of the leaders of the democracy movement in Belarus in the mid-1980s and has continued to campaign for human rights and civil liberties in the country. (AP Archive)

A trio of human rights champions from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have won the Nobel Peace Prize, a highly symbolic choice of laureates drawn from three nations at the centre of the conflict in Ukraine.

The honour went to detained activist Ales Bialiatski of Belarus, Russia's Memorial group and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties on Friday.

"They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy", the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, told reporters.

The committee called on Belarus to release Bialiatski, 60, who has been jailed since 2021.

Bialiatski's wife said she was "overwhelmed with emotion" after the news.

Last year, the Peace Prize crowned two champions of freedom of the press, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa and her Russian colleague Dmitry Muratov.

The prize comes with a gold medal, a diploma and a prize sum of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $900,000).

The award will be presented at a formal ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of the prizes' creator, Swedish inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel.

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Peace pioneers

Reiss-Andersen said she hoped Bialiatski would be able to attend. "We do hope... that he can come to Oslo and receive the honour bestowed upon him," she said.

Bialiatski was imprisoned from 2011 to 2014, and was again arrested following large-scale demonstrations against the regime in 2020.

"He is still detained without trial. Despite tremendous personal hardship, Mr Bialiatski has not yielded an inch in his fight for human rights and democracy in Belarus," the Nobel committee said.

Memorial is meanwhile the largest human rights organisation in Russia. Russia's Supreme Court ordered the group's central structure, called Memorial International, dissolved in December 2021.

In addition to establishing a centre of documentation on victims of the Stalinist era, Memorial compiled and systematised information on political oppression and human rights violations in Russia.

Both Bialiatski and Memorial have been mentioned in Nobel speculation in previous years.

After Russia attacked Ukraine in February, the Center for Civil Liberties, founded in 2007, has engaged in efforts to identify and document alleged Russian atrocities against the Ukrainian civilian population.

"In collaboration with international partners, the center is playing a pioneering role with a view to holding the guilty parties accountable for their crimes," the committee said.

The Peace Prize is the only Nobel awarded in Oslo, with the other disciplines announced in Stockholm.

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Source: AFP