Belarusian opposition leader Tikhanovskaya receives EU’s Sakharov Prize
Moscow [Russia], December 16 Belarusian opposition leader and ex-presidential candidate in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, received the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, awarded to the Belarusian opposition, on Wednesday.
European Parliament President David Sassoli acknowledged her “strength, resistance and courage”, also noting that the EU sees “unspeakable” abuses of human rights in Belarus. Sassoli also noted that her “determination to live in a democratic country” is inspiring.
“We support you in your struggle … We have awoken and we will not go back to sleep,” Sassoli said.
In her address, Tikhanovskaya paid a tribute to Belarusian opposition forces and protesters, and slammed police violence.
“I am one of the thousands of Belarusians who used to be afraid. An invisible wall of fear was built around us … it held us back for almost three decades but this year everything has changed. This year we united in our aspiration for change … It is a story of hope, courage and freedom. Belarusians have been honored with the Sakharov Freedom of Thought Prize. What is a better recognition that we are free-thinkers? What is a better motivation for us to keep going? We are bound to win and we will win. A simple wish to walk freely in the streets of our cities and towns keeps us going. Desire to celebrate holidays with our families keeps us going. A dream of a better future for Belarus keeps us going … Belarus that our children can be proud of. I am endlessly honored to speak in front of you. We received this prize together with brave Belarusians,” Tikhanovskaya told the European Parliament.
Earlier on Wednesday, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell held a meeting with Tikhanovskaya in Brussels. Borrell praised the Belarusian opposition forces for “their courage, resilience and determination in promoting democracy and human rights.” Borrell and Tikhanovskaya exchanged opinions on the new developments in Belarus, with the EU official reiterating the bloc’s commitment to promote release of political prisoners and support free and fair elections with international monitors.