Dec 10, 2022 - World

Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner calls Ukraine war "insane and criminal"

Memorial chairman Yan Rachinsky on behalf of 2022 Nobel Peace Prize winner Russian human rights organisation Memorial delivers a speech.

Memorial chairman Yan Rachinsky speaks after receiving the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Photo: Rodrigo Freitas/NTB/AFP via Getty Images.

Russian Nobel Peace laureate Yan Rachinsky called Russia's war on Ukraine "insane and criminal" in his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, on Saturday, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine accepted the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize over the weekend for their work to document war crimes and abuse of power.

Details: Rachinsky, who heads the Russian human rights group Memorial, said in his acceptance speech that "fascism" under Russian President Vladimir Putin has become “the ideological justification for the insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine," according to CNN.

  • He also claimed that Kremlin authorities told him to turn down the award, per BBC News. There has been no official confirmation of Rachinsky's claim.
  • "In today's Russia, no one's personal safety can be guaranteed," he told BBC's HARDtalk program. "Yes, many have been killed. But we know what impunity of the state leads to. … We need to get out of this pit somehow."

Zoom out: Both the Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine received the award, as well as Belarusian advocate Ales Bialiatski, Axios' Noah Bressner writes. Bialiatski’s wife accepted the award on his behalf at the ceremony this weekend, CNN reports.

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the three laureates “have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy."
  • The three will split prize money of 10,000,000 Swedish krona ($900,000).

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