AFP

Belarus opposition trio nominated for 2021 Nobel Peace Prize 18 October 2020 - 16:52

A Norwegian MP has nominated three members of the Belarus opposition for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for organising peaceful protests against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, he said Sunday.Geir Toskedal, of the Christian Democratic Party, told the Vart Land daily he had nominated Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo "for their struggle for fair elections and for inspiring peaceful opposition against the illegitimate regime in Belarus".The announcement came as thousands of Belarusians took to the streets of Minsk for a new protest against Lukashenko on Sunday, in defiance of threats by authorities to open fire after weeks of demonstrations -- and as the Belarusian interior ministry said police had arrested more than 100 people.The ex-Soviet nation has been gripped by historic protests after Lukashenko claimed victory in August 9 elections over Tikhanovskaya."Opposition politicians in Belarus have fantastic courage. They organise peaceful demonstrations, even though the authorities are using increasing violence against them," Toskedal said.He said he hoped the nomination would draw "even more attention to the peaceful struggle being waged against Europe's last dictator", and to all those engaged in the fight for "a free and democratic Belarus." Tikhanovskaya, who was granted shelter in EU member Lithuania after the vote, has called on Lukashenko to quit power before October 25, warning he would otherwise face a crippling general strike.The Norwegian Nobel Institute welcomes all proposed names, as long as they are sent in by January 31 for the year in question and are submitted by those eligible to nominate.Toskedal falls into that category as a member of Norway's parliament.Each year, the Nobel Institute receives hundreds of nominations. The Institute keeps the names secret for 50 years, although those who nominate are allowed to publicly disclose their pick.In September, two other lawmakers from Sweden and Norway said they had nominated US President Donald Trump for the 2021 peace prize.This year, the distinction went to the UN relief agency, the World Food Programme.

Issue 86