The brave people of Ukraine represented by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, chosen leaders and civil society received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is the highest award of the European Union for achievements in human rights activities.
The award was presented during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The President of Ukraine took part in the ceremony online.
The Head of State greeted those present on behalf of the Ukrainian people - all those who fight and work for the sake of Ukraine and freedom.
“For the sake of everything without which it is impossible to imagine all of us, life, Europe. Impossible to imagine without Ukraine and without freedom. And not only because it will simply be untrue. But also because any attempt to deprive Europe of Ukraine and freedom is always a crime,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President noted that Russia is committing this crime against Ukraine and Europe right now. He expressed his belief that Ukrainians and all Europeans will win this fight so that there will never be another attempt to deprive Europe and Ukraine of their freedom.
At the same time, as the Head of State noted, it is necessary to act now, without waiting for the end of the war, to hold to account all those who started it, and to prevent the recurrence of aggression.
“This will be the most effective protection of freedom, human rights, the rule of law and other common values of ours, which are embodied, in particular, by this award of the European Parliament - the Sakharov Prize,” the President emphasized.
He thanked everyone who helps investigate the crimes of the occupiers in our country, who is looking for information about Russian murderers and terrorists, as well as the International Criminal Court, which has a clear intention to ensure justice for what the occupiers committed on the territory of our country.
“I am grateful to all the leaders and states, all the politicians and international organizations who are working together with us and are making every possible effort to create a tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine. I call on all of you, your parties and states to effectively support this work! The tribunal must start working,” he emphasized.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also called on MEPs to support recognition of the Holodomor crime against the Ukrainian people as genocide.
“Europe should give the strongest possible signal that there will not be a single gap left in the history of tragedies on our continent, in the history of crimes against humanity and humanness committed on our land. I believe that it will be so!” the President said.
The Head of State thanked the European Parliament for its support and honoring the Ukrainian struggle with this award.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy personally thanked President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola who announced the people of Ukraine as the laureate of this year's Sakharov Prize.
“I thank you personally, Roberta, for supporting us - you came to Kyiv in a difficult, dangerous time, for supporting our reforms, our movement into European structures, and for really helping. Thank you,” he noted.
For her part, Roberta Metsola noted that it was a great honor for her to congratulate this year's laureates of the Sakharov Prize, which is the most prestigious award for freedom of thought.
"This year, the award is presented to the Ukrainian nation, the Ukrainian President and all the people of Ukraine, who paid such a huge price for freedom," she emphasized.
The President of the European Parliament noted that today is the 293rd day since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Europeans are proud of the bravery of Ukrainians who demonstrate resilience every day both on the battlefield and during the aggressor's attacks on civilians.
Roberta Metsola assured of the continued support for the Ukrainian people in the war for common values, because everyone, including Ukrainians, has the right to live according to the principles of democracy and freedom.
"Ukrainian women sang at metro stations during the bombings. We will not stand aside. We will support you in your war for our common values," the President of the European Parliament emphasized.
The Sakharov Prize is named after the Soviet scientist, dissident, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andriy Sakharov (1921-1989). It has been awarded annually since 1988 by the European Parliament for outstanding achievements in such areas as the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to free expression, the protection of minority rights and respect for international law, as well as the development of democracy and the implementation of the rule of law.
In particular, the laureates of the prize this year were: the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov, founder of the evacuation medical unit "Angels of Taira" Yulia Paevska, human rights defender, activist, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Oleksandra Matviychuk, representatives of the "Yellow Ribbon" resistance movement.