EPP Group leads initiative to nominate Euromaidan for 2014 Sakharov Prize

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2014/09/14 • Political News

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group, has submitted the nomination of Euromaidan, to be represented by Mustafa Nayem, Ruslana Lyzhychko, Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova and Tetiana Chornovol, for the 2014 Sakharov Prize.

“Euromaidan has become a truly European voice for values, freedom and human rights and as such deserves the highest recognition of the European Parliament”, he explained in the nomination.

“Awarding the Sakharov Prize to Euromaidan, recognising the endeavour of Ukrainians towards shared European values, also highlights the all-too-often forgotten successes of the European Union – the democracy and peace we have achieved over the last 60 years”, he added.

An agreement is being negotiated with other political groups in the Parliament in order to grant Euromaidan as much support as possible.

Mustafa Nayem was the first to urge Ukrainians to gather on Independence Square in Kiev to protest against the government decision to refuse the signature of the Association Agreement with the EU, which eventually led to the Euromaidan protest. He is a journalist and blogger currently working for Hromadske TV. Whereas during the protest most of the information sources were censored and others cut-off from power, Hromadske TV was one of the main internet sources transmitting the latest developments held on Maidan and in other cities to the people.

Ruslana Lyzhychko, known as Ruslana, was elected leader of the Euromaidan Council which was the governing body of the protest. She is one of the most prominent figures of Euromaidan. She is a World Music Award and Eurovision Song Contest winning artist, holding the title of People’s Artists of Ukraine. She stayed at Kiev’s Independence Square day and night, sleeping only for a few hours in the Trade Union building occupied by the protesters. In total, Ruslana spent at least 100 days and nights on the Maidan stage during the cold winter inspiring the crowds, giving speeches, praying and singing the Ukrainian national anthem – the only weapon that the peaceful protesters had. From January 2014, Ruslana started meeting key EU and US politicians with the aim of raising awareness of the protest and asking for support for Ukraine. She put herself in serious danger in doing so.

Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova was elected to the Presidium of the Euromaidan Council as the student representative. She is the President of the Ukrainian Association of Student Self-government and represents Ukrainian students on the board of the European Students’ Union. On November 21, it was students who started protesting against the government decision to refuse the signature of the Association Agreement. One week later, the students were violently beaten by riot police. The next day, the Kiev streets saw 40,000 students joining the protest.

Tetiana Chornovol was one of the first and symbolic victims of Euromaidan, nearly being beaten to death on December 25 after publishing information of the then President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych’s corrupt practices. Taking into consideration that the state was in deep economic crisis, this information provoked outrage within the society and incited further protests. Until recently, she was commissioner for anti-corruption policy. She is a widowed mother of two. Her husband, Mykola Berezovyi, a volunteer Ukrainian fighter in Eastern Ukraine, was killed in August 2014. Tetiana is still fighting for Euromaidan ideas in the East.

Note: The Group of the European People’s Party (EPP Group) is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 221 Members from 27 Member States.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honor individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.  As of 2010, the prize is accompanied by a monetary award of €50,000.

The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko. The 2013 award was given to Malala Yousafzai. The Prize has also been awarded to organisations, the first being the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992).

Source: eppgroup.eu

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