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Belarusian Opposition Leader Finalist For Sakharov Prize


Alyaksandr Kazulin
Belarusian opposition leader Alyaksandr Kazulin has been shortlisted for the European Union's top human rights prize.

Kazulin joins the jailed Chinese human rights campaigner Hu Jia and Congolese electoral official Abbot Apollinaire Malu Malu in the running for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Kazulin, who ran against Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus's 2006 presidential election, was jailed for inciting the protests that followed Lukashenka's disputed reelection. He was released last month.

"Alyaksandr Kazulin has shown great courage to withstand the regime's actions and to fight for freedom of thought and expression and basic civil rights," Kazulin's nomination reads.

"Kazulin's deeds, his losses and his sacrifices have demonstrated his unwavering commitment in [the] fight for freedom, no matter how difficult it may be. His tremendous personal sacrifice for bringing democracy and freedom back to the most oppressed nation in Europe should be applauded and duly recognized."

The prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament to individuals or organizations for their efforts on behalf of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The winner will be announced in mid-October, with an award ceremony in December.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the prize, named for Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

To mark the occasion, all previous winners of the prize are being invited to a special event scheduled for December in Strasbourg.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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