Nine members of the Belarusian opposition, including captain Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in Brussels.
They carried the flag of their country and were loudly applauded by the small group of MEPs present at the plenary session due to corona measures.
Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya thanked “your solidarity” and said: “Any Belarusian who takes part in the peaceful protests against violence and lawlessness is a hero.”
She said she had one more wish this year: “I want every Belarusian who is now in prison or forced to flee the country can go home.” Tichanovskaya himself emigrated to neighbouring Lithuania two days after the elections he himself won by President Aleksandr Lukashenko in August.
The prize was awarded in October to the ten members of the so-called Coordination Council, the “initiative of brave women”, said Parliament Speaker David Sassoli. Only Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alekseyevich was unable to attend the ceremony.
Tichanovskaja also spoke with EU foreign chief Josep Borrell in Brussels about the situation in the country.
The EU parliament established the human rights prize, which is worth € 50,000, in 1988. The Sakharov Prize is named after Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov. Last year, the prize went to the Uyghur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti. Nelson Mandela was one of the previous winners.