Belarusian opposition parties, united in the Coordination Council, received the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament on Thursday. The prize is a high European award for people who stand up for Human Rights.

President David Sassoli of the European Parliament praised the ten members of the council for their “daily courage and determination” to defend democracy.

“Know that we are with you,” says Sassoli.

Belarus, the country we used to call Belarus, has been under protest for more than ten weeks after suspected electoral fraud in the presidential elections on 9 August.

The demonstrators are angry about the election results, with president Alexander Lukashenko receiving more than 80% of the votes. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the most popular opposition candidate, received just over 10%. Demonstrators speak of electoral fraud and demand that Lukashenko resign. The European Union does not recognize Lukashenko.

In the meantime, almost the entire Belarusian opposition has been arrested or fled the Eastern European country. Tikhanovskaya has fled to Lithuania. Sassoli said he hopes to receive the winners soon for the award ceremony. It is on the agenda for the December part-session.

The EU Parliament established the human rights prize, to which EUR 50 000 is attached, in 1988. The Sakharov Prize is named after Soviet dissident and Nobel Laureate Andrei Sakharov. Last year the prize went to the Uighur economist and human rights activist Ilham Tohti. Nelson Mandela was one of the previous winners.

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