Why ‘blowback’ against Russia’s 2022 Nobel Peace Prize recipients is ‘profoundly misguided’: journalist

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In early October, the most recent Nobel Peace Prize recipients were announced — and all three of them are from Slavic countries in Eastern Europe: Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski, the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, and Russian human rights group Memorial. Some Ukrainian activists, in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, are upset that anyone from Russia or Belarus would be chosen for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. But libertarian/conservative journalist Cathy Young, in an article published by The Bulwark on October 10, argues that it is silly and misguided to lump all Russians in with Putin or all Belarusians in with strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

Young explains, “A number of Ukrainian voices reacted with criticism or even outrage — most notably, Mykhailo Podolyak, a journalist and adviser to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky…. Bialiatski, the 60-year-old chairman of the ‘Viasna’ (Spring) Human Rights Center, has been in prison since July 2021 awaiting trial on phony charges of tax evasion. Memorial…. was born in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s in the era of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost as a group seeking to record, preserve, and publicize Stalin-era atrocities and post-Stalin Soviet repressions — and…. offshoot the Memorial Human Rights Center also focused on modern-day human rights abuses in Russia.”

Young adds that while this “blowback” is “understandable amid the passions of war,” it is “also profoundly misguided.”

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“For one thing, the claim that the joint prize to the ‘Slavic list’ implies a lumping together of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia into a single ‘fraternal’ basket — or even perhaps even into one big Greater Russia — reflects a basic ignorance about the way joint Nobel Peace prizes operate,” Young explains. “In a number of cases, they have been given to individuals from different countries that have little in common when those individuals are in some sense working — not necessarily together — for the same cause.”

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