The people of Ukraine, represented by their President, will rightly be the recipients of this year’s European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Barry Ward, the Fine Gael Spokesperson on Justice, said, “Since 1988, the Sakharov Prize has recognised the constant struggle for democracy and justice around the world by those who strive to protect human rights and protect freedom of thought.
“It is a fitting tribute to the strength of Ukraine and its leaders, but also an important marker that Europe rejects Russia’s disregard for freedoms that we in the European Union take for granted.
“It is remarkable that so many recent recipients of the prize have also been struggling under Russian oppression. In addition to this year’s recognition of what the Ukrainian people have been subjected to by Russia, three of the last four prizes acknowledged;
Alexei Navalny (2021), leader of the Russia of the Future opposition party and currently serving a sentence of nine years for embezzlement after accusing Vladimir Putin and the Federal Security Service (FSB) of trying to poison him;
Democratic Opposition of Belarus (2020), led by Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya, after Russia puppet dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s sham re-election as President of Belarus in 2020, which involved the brutal suppression of legitimate protests and the imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners;
Oleg Sentsov (2018), Ukrainian Crimean filmmaker and activist who was convicted in Russia of fabricated charges such as plotting terrorism. He served over five years in jail before being released in a prisoner swap.
“Russia continues to prove that it is not a normal country, it is not a functional member of the international community and has no respect for the rule of law or human rights. I am proud that my party, the European People’s Party, nominated the People of Ukraine for this year’s Sakharov Prize,” Senator Ward concluded.