EuroMaidan closer to winning Sakharov Prize

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Members of the European Parliament's Committees on Foreign Affairs, on Development and of the Subcommittee on Human Rights today jointly shortlisted EuroMaidan, represented by Mustafa Nayem, Ruslana Lyzhychko, Yelyzaveta Schepetylnykova and Tetiana Chornovol, as one of the three final candidates nominated for the 2014 Sakharov Prize. 

"We want to honour this movement for its members’ civil courage to challenge the authoritarian and brutal regime in Ukraine. Those people were ready to pay the highest price – their lives - for our European values and for their European choice. Granting the Sakharov Prize to EuroMaidan would obviously be a direct continuation of Sakharov's struggle for universal human values. Sakharov himself defended human rights in the Soviet Union. Sakharov fought against the Soviet Union which treated the West as an evil organisation. EuroMaidan did the same some years later", said Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group responsible for Foreign Affairs, who submitted the candidacy of EuroMaidan.

"Granting the Sakharov Prize, also referred to as the European Nobel Prize, to EuroMaidan would empower Ukrainians who face their lonely fight in these difficult moments. It would honour this multicultural, multireligious, multinational movement, united in fighting in peaceful protest for fundamental rights and democracy. EuroMaidan brought Christians, Jews and Muslims together," Saryusz-Wolski explained.

"For the first time in history, to such a great extent, people died under the European flag and in the name of European values. Granting the Sakharov Prize to EuroMaidan would be a reminder for European citizens, for ourselves, how valuable freedom and democracy are, and that they have to be defended even at the highest price", he stressed.

The shortlist of the finalists will now be sent to the EP’s Conference of Presidents composed of leaders of political groups who will choose the Laureate on 16 October. The award ceremony is planned for the EP’s Strasbourg plenary session in November.

*Mustafa Nayem was the first to urge Ukrainians to gather on Independence Square in Kiev to protest against the Government's decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, which eventually led to the EuroMaidan protest. He is a journalist and a blogger currently working for Hromadske TV. While most of the information sources were censored during the protest and others cut-off from power, Hromadske TV was one of the main internet sources transmitting news from Maidan and other cities to the people.

*Ruslana Lyzhychko, also 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 was present 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 about 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 a 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, the students were the first to start protesting against the Government's decision not to sign the Association Agreement. One week later, they were violently beaten by the police. The following day 40,000 students took to the Kiev streets joining the protest.

*Tetiana Chornovol was one of the first and symbolic victims of EuroMaidan, nearly being beaten to death on 25 December after publishing the information about the corrupt practices of Viktor Yanukovych who was the then President of Ukraine. Considering that the country was in a deep economic crisis, the beating provoked outrage within society and incited further protests. Until recently, she was the 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.

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