The "brave women of Belarus," led by opposition figures Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maryya Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala have been nominated in the European Parliament for this year’s Sakharov Prize.
The trio was nominated by the second-largest group in the chamber, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D).
In a press release announcing the decision, Kati Piri, S&D vice president, said that "we are firmly convinced that this year’s Sakharov Prize should honor the brave women of Belarus fighting for freedom and democracy in their country. We are particularly inspired by the three women who spearheaded the grassroots opposition campaign for last month's presidential elections in an attempt to unseat autocratic dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka."
Other groups in the European Parliament are expected to announce their own nominations later this week or early next week. However, sources in Brussels have told RFE/RL that all of the main political groups are leaning toward backing the S&D proposal.
The deadline for nominations is September 17 with three candidates due to be shortlisted on October 12 before the final decision on the 2020 laureate is announced on October 22.
The annual human rights prize is named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov and was established in 1988 by the European Parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists and the former Belarusian Presidential candidate Alyaksandr Milinkievich were awarded the prize in 2004 and 2006 respectively.