EU legislators award rights prize to the Belarusian opposition

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© Reuters. The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, announces the 2020 EU Sakharov Prize in the European Parliament in Brussels

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By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament on Thursday awarded its annual human rights award to the democratic opposition in Belarus to support the country’s protests against the results of a presidential election in August, which the West and the opposition said it had manipulated.

“My message to you, dear winners, is to stay strong and not to give up your fight. You know that we are by your side,” said European Parliament President David Sassoli after receiving the award to “brave women. .. prominent politicians “had announced and figures from civil society. “

Parliament cited ten opposition figures in its award declaration, including the main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and the Nobel Prize winner, Svetlana Alexievich.

Tens of thousands of people have marched through the streets of the Belarusian capital Minsk every weekend since the elections to denounce President Alexander Lukashenko’s attempt to extend his 26-year rule despite the brutality and detention of the police.

The EU, Great Britain, Canada and the United States are accusing Lukashenko of maintaining power by holding fraudulent elections, imprisoning opponents and silencing independent media.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought of 50,000 euros (59,180 US dollars), named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded every year. Past winners include South African President Nelson Mandela, Venezuela’s democratic opposition and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.

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