Belarus’ democratic opposition awarded with 2020 Sakharov Prize in Brussels

On Wednesday, EP President David Sassoli has handed the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the group of Belarusian opposition activists, a Belsat crew reports from Brussels.

This year’s prize holder, the democratic opposition in Belarus, is represented by the Coordination Council, initiative of brave women (main opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich, musician and political activist Maryia Kalesnikava, and activists Volha Kavalkova and Veranika Tsapkala), as well as political and civil society figures (blogger and political prisoner Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Ales Byalyatski, the founder of the Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna, strike movement activist Syarhei Dyleuski, popular vlogger Stsyapan Putsila (NEXTA), and Mikalai Statkevich, a political prisoner and presidential candidate in the 2010 election).

Belarusian activists receiving award in European Parliament. 16 December 2020. Photo:
Ales Byalyatski, Syarhei Dyleuski, Stsyapan Putsila, Volha Kavalkova. Photo:

“The whole world is aware of what is happening in your country. We see your courage. We see the courage of women. We see your suffering. We see the unspeakable abuses. We see the violence. Your aspiration and determination to live in a democratic country inspires us,” David Sassoli stressed during the awarding ceremony.

According to Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, aach and every Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protests against violence and lawlessnes is a hero and an example of courage and dignity.

“Belarusians have been marching every week since the 9 August election. They march for their future and the future of those who cannot be there. They march for the freedom and dignity of Belarusians, of Europeans, yours and ours. Without a free Belarus, Europe is not fully free either <…> I have only one wish this year. I want every Belarusian who is now in jail or was forced to live in exile to return home,” the EP press service cites her.

Tsikhanouskaya’s team names seven areas of economic pressure on Belarus authorities

Activist Volha Kavalkova put focus on the need to grant support to Belarusians, and human rights defender Ales Byalyatski urged the EU to declare the year 2021 Year of Belarus.

“The Belarusian people have paid and keep paying a heavy price for their freedom. But we are firmly resolved to fight it out. We will not stop until we win, ” Maryna Adamovich quoted her husband, political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded every year by the European Parliament. It was established in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

29 persons, 7 entities: Third sanctions package against Belarus officials coming, following