They were represented by their president, elected leaders and civil society at the ceremony in Strasbourg.
Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine, launched in February 2022, is inflicting enormous costs on the Ukrainian people, who are fighting to protect their homes, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Every day they are also battling for freedom, democracy, the rule of law and European values.
Awarding the prize, President Metsola spoke of the courage and sacrifices of the Ukrainian people: “The message from Europe has been clear: We stand with Ukraine. We will not look away. The Ukrainian people are not just fighting a war of independence but fighting a war of values. The values which underpin our life in the European Union and that we have long had the luxury of taking for granted each and every day.”
After asking for a minute of silence in the name of all the Ukrainian men, women, children, military and civilians who have been killed in the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said:
“We must act now, not waiting for the war to end, to bring to justice all those who unleashed it and to prevent any repetition of aggression. This will be the most effective protection of freedom, human rights, the rule of law and other common values, which are embodied in particular by this award by the European Parliament.”
Speaking via video link, he called for support for an international tribunal to bring to justice for the crimes committed by Russia.
Present at the ceremony were:
• Oleksandra Matviychuk – human rights lawyer, chair of the Center for Civil Liberties organisation, which was one of the winners of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize
• Yulia Pajevska – founder of the evacuation medical unit Angels of Taira
• Ivan Federov – the mayor of Melitopol
• Olekssandr Chekryhin and Stanislav Kulykivskyi – representing the State Emergency Services
• Yaroslav Bozhko of the Yellow Ribbon Civil Resistance Movement.
Find out more about this year’s nominees.
Find out how the EU is supporting Ukraine.
The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded annually by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named after the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and consists of a certificate and a €50,000 award.
In 2021, Parliament awarded the prize to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.