Nobel Peace Prize awarded to human rights campaigners

STORY: The winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize were announced on Friday (October 7).

Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, Russian organization Memorial and Ukrainian group Center for Civil Liberties were commended for their work as human rights campaigners.

It's the first prize awarded since Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

And has echoes of the Cold War era, when prominent Soviet dissidents won Nobels for peace or literature.

Here's Nobel Committee Chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen.

"Through their consistent efforts in favor of human values, anti-militarism and principles of law, this year's laureates have revitalized and honored Alfred Nobel's vision of peace and fraternity between nations - a vision most needed in the world today."

Many will see the choice of winners this year as a condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, making it one of the most politically contentious in decades.

In her speech, Reiss-Andersen also called on Belarus to release Byalyatski from prison and said the prize was not aimed against Putin.

Belarusian security police raided offices and homes of lawyers and human rights activists in July last year, detaining Byalyatski and others in a new crackdown on opponents of Lukashenko.

Anna Popova from winning Ukrainian organization, Center for Civil Liberties, said she was proud of her institution.

“This was a very big news, we did not expect it. Personally, I didn’t even know that our organization had been nominated. This is a very big step for the world to hear about us. I know the Russian propaganda has influence, saying that the Ukrainians are abusing other Ukrainians and Russians. But the whole democratic world has acknowledged the terror of the Russian Federation against Ukrainian people and territories.”

Russia's Memorial said on Friday that winning the award was recognition of its human rights work - and of colleagues who continue to suffer "unspeakable attacks and reprisals" in the country.

Founded in 1989 to help the victims of political repression during the Soviet Union and their relatives, Memorial campaigns for democracy and civil rights in Russia and former Soviet republics.

The Nobel Peace Prize, worth about $900,000, will be presented in Oslo on December 10.