This year’s peace prize recipient is a very powerful mark against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s entire regime, says Eastern European expert Stefan Ingvarsson. “Because it is the one that supports the regime in Minsk, that attacks and kills civilians in Ukraine, and that carries out repression against its own civil society.”Published: October 7, 2022, 9:18 p.mIt’s Vladimir Putin’s birthday, and at the same time the day when the Russian human rights organization Memorial, the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties and the Belarusian democracy profile Ales Byalyatski are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”The intention is to give a clear signal on his 70th birthday that the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and by extension the entire Western world, strongly protest against all the consequences that the Putin regime’s increasingly totalitarian and neo-imperialist policies have for the whole of Eastern Europe,” says Stefan Ingvarsson, analyst at the Center for Eastern European Studies at the Foreign Policy Institute (UI). Peter Wallensteen, professor of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University, makes the same assessment: “It’s like a comment on the current stage. It concerns all three countries, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia,” he says. Peter Wallensteen however, is concerned about the situation of the Russian human rights organization Memorial.” It has been classified as a foreign agent by the Russian authorities and in principle banned. In addition, in principle, their entire archive of the abuses during Stalin’s time should have been liquidated, and that is terrible,” he says. Wallensteen’s concern was justified. Hours after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced this year’s peace prize winners, a Moscow court responded by seizing Memorial’s headquarters in the capital. “It is now state property,” the court announced. Wallensteen has no detailed knowledge of the Ukrainian organization that is involved and shares in the award. “It is not known. But it reflects the image of a hugely active civil society. It gives an image of Ukraine as a relatively open society fighting for democracy.” Inga Näslund, responsible for matters concerning Eastern Europe at the Palmecentret, is excited about the award: “Ales Byaljatski is a good friend and a very brave man. Many fled Belarus when the regime cracked down on the opposition but he returned, and is now in prison. I hope this can protect him and not make it more difficult for him,” she says. She also thinks it’s good that Memorial is participating and sharing the award. “It’s good that they are being recognized. They have had a very difficult time, which has led to the fact that, just like all other organizations in Russia, they have been forced to continue their work abroad.””It is good that the Ukrainian organization is also involved. It is needed in a pure war situation.” Stefan Ingvarsson, as 2015–2020 was cultural adviser at the Swedish embassy in Moscow, says that the Norwegian Nobel Committee could well have given the prize to each of the organizations in their own right. Lumped together, there is the risk that the individual struggles of each actor end up in the shadows. The award to Ales Byalyatski, who founded the Belarusian organization Vyasna, is important because the massive oppression that Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko exercises against the people easily disappears under the radar, he believes. And Ukrainian The Center for Civil Liberties can be considered a representative of the entire Ukrainian civil society, which is dedicated to mapping war crimes, the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties. , says Ingvarsson.
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