The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights to the Belarusian movement opposing President Alexander Lukashenko, led by the exiled Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“It is an honour to announce that the women and men of the democratic opposition in Belarus are the 2020 Sakharov Prize laureates,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said on Twitter on Thursday.
“They have on their side something that brute force can never defeat: the truth. Do not give up on your fight. We are by your side.”
Tikhanovskaya became a top opposition candidate after her husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who had intended to run, was jailed ahead of the presidential election on August 9.
The European Union agreed this month to impose sanctions against officials suspected of election misconduct and involvement in a security crackdown on protesters in Belarus.
The 27-nation bloc has warned it is ready to sanction Lukashenko if he fails to enter into talks with the opposition and end the repression launched after a disputed election.
Lukashenko won his sixth term in office in an August 9 presidential election, which handed him 80 percent of the vote.
Ms Tikhanovskaya shares the prize with several leading members of the opposition’s Coordination Council, which was created after the election in a bid to facilitate talks on a transition of power.