Ales Bialiatski, Pussy Riot and Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi are the three finalists shortlisted for the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in a foreign affairs committee and development committee vote on Tuesday 9 October. The laureate will be announced on Friday 26 October following a decision of the Conference of Presidents.
Nominations come from a political group or at least 40 MEPs and the foreign affairs and development committees decided on the three finalists on 9 October. Ales Bialiatski was nominated by Polish MEP Jacek Sariusz-Wolski and 82 other MEPs.
In November, 2011 Head of Viasna human rights center was sentenced to 4.5-year confinement in a medium security penal colony and confiscation of property for alleged large-scale tax evasion.
The fact of Ales Bialiatski’s holding of bank accounts in Poland and Lithuania gave the grounds for criminal prosecution. The cash standing to the credit of accounts was used for human rights defence activity: the centre financially supported the people affected by Lukashenka’s regime. In court Bialiatski stated that he had no other possibility of getting financial aid from foreign backers. Opening accounts in Belarus turned out to be impossible since the Belarusian authorities repeatedly denied an official registration to Viasna human rights center.
About the prize
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov. It has been awarded annually by the European Parliament since 1988 to individuals or organisations that have made an important contribution to the fight for human rights or democracy. Prospective candidates are nominated pursuant to the Sakharov Prize statute by at least 40 members of the European Parliament or by a political group.
Parliament awards the human rights prize, endowed with 50,000, at a formal sitting held in Strasbourg on or around 10 December, the day on which the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.