Nobel Peace Prize honors Putin’s foes

It is the daily acts of defiance by those on the ground, the efforts to bring justice and accountability and restore the bonds of civil society that give peace its greatest longterm chance.



October 10, 2022 - 2:09 PM

Oleksandra Romantsova, executive director of the Centre of Civil Liberties, sits with her dog as she speaks to journalists as at a news conference on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. The Ukrainian human rights organization was one of three to win received the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. (Ed Ram/Getty Images/TNS)

We can’t know what was said in those secret deliberations, but the Nobel Committee must have thought about giving Volodymyr Zelenskyy the Peace prize. That would have been a popular choice — he easily topped the 2022 Time magazine reader poll for the most influential person of the year.

They were right instead to honor Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian civil and human rights activists. The prize is “not against anyone,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the Nobel committee. And yet, on Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, it is clearly a repudiation of everything he stands for and an eloquent defense of the importance of both civil society and memory in building peace.

It’s not that Zelenskyy isn’t a strong or deserving candidate. The Ukrainian president’s uncommon courage and leadership has inspired a number of people under extreme duress, and he has made the democratic world think about freedoms we often take for granted and what it means to defend them. He’s fighting a war he didn’t choose, a war of necessity.

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