STRASBOURG, France ( Associated Press) — The people of Ukraine and their representatives won the Sakharov Prize, the European Union’s top human rights award, on Wednesday for their resistance to war and defiance of Russia.
The bloc of 27 nations awarded the award to “the brave people of Ukraine” in October. The award was received by Yulia Pajewska, founder of the Angels de Tera medical evacuation unit, at a felicitation ceremony in Strasbourg, France; Human rights activist Aleksandra Matvichuk and Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the occupied city of Melitopol.
“We have witnessed the inspiring resistance of ordinary citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice to delay a column of tanks. Old men using nothing but their pride as a weapon against Russian soldiers. I was forced to give birth”, declared Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament.
“For these people, the message from Europe has been clear: We are with Ukraine. We will not look away,” he said.
Named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, the award was created in 1988 to honor groups or individuals who defend human rights and basic freedoms. Sakharov, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, died in 1989.
It is the second year in a row that the European Parliament has used the award to send a message to the Kremlin: last year it was won by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Ukrainian resistance to the war that began in February continues despite a recent surge in Russian attacks. Ukraine’s military has recaptured large parts of the country, dealing a blow to Russian military prestige.