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The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by PACE, in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation, “to honour outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond”.
The 60,000-euro prize was presented at a special ceremony on the opening day of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.
Vladimir Kara-Murza who has been a consistent critic of the Russian government, and co-founder of the Russian Anti-War Committee established to oppose Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was awarded with the prize.
Presenting the award, PACE President Tiny Kox, who chaired the selection panel, said: “Despite the risks, Vladimir Kara-Murza had the courage to return to his country to continue his fight, even while having the possibility to stay safe. It takes incredible courage in today’s Russia to stand against the power in place. Today, Mr Kara-Murza is showing this courage, from his prison cell.”
The Moderate party’s opposition leader Ulf Kristersson claimed victory Wednesday evening in Sweden’s general election after three days of vote counting resulted in a narrow three-seat advantage for his side.
“We have an election result, we have the mandate for change we asked for,” Moderate Party leader Kristersson said as the result was announced. “I will now begin the process of forming a new government for Sweden and all its citizens.”
Outgoing premier Magdalena Andersson conceded defeat. She said she would resign as prime minister on Thursday, but remain leader of the Social Democrats in opposition.
Ulf Kristersson now faces a fresh challenge to stitch together a functioning government from the disparate group of allies that back him to lead Sweden.
Some days ago, the leader of UCP party in Belarus Mikalai Kazlou was once again detained in Belarus. This time the former UCP vice chair Antanina Kavaliova and the regional chair of UCP in the Minsk region Aksana Alyakseeva, were detained together with him.
This follows months of increased repression and brutal handling of the democratic forces in the country, a development that has increased severely since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
The UCP Political Council considers the detentions and arrests “a gross violation of the current constitution and calls this a campaign to intimidate party members and supporters” in the oldest dictatorship in Europe.
Furthermore, the UCP political council calls on the sister parties from EPP to campaign in solidarity with the detained, arrested and convicted leaders and activists of the UCP.
Yesterday, the ambassador of Ukraine in Sweden, Mr. Andrii Plakhotniuk, was awarded the Royal Order of the Polar Star. In a decree issued by His Majesty The King, Plakhotniuk was appointed Commander 1st Class of the order. It is common that an ambassador receives the order from the King at the end of the diplomatic tenure in Stockholm. However, by awarding the Ukrainian ambassador the royal order at this point, Sweden shows in a unique move its support for the Ukrainian fight for peace and freedom. The order was handed to Andrii Plakhotniuk by the foreign minister in a small ceremony at the ministry of foreign affairs.
Ilya Yashin, former leader of the Russian liberal party PARNAS, has reportedly been detained in Russia. The party PARNAS, now led by former Russian prime minister Michail Kasyanov, is considered one of the most stable actors within the liberal opposition movement in Russia.
One of his aides said that he was charged with disobeying police and insulting them while being detained. However, no explanation has been made on why he was approached by the police in a Moscow park in the first place. He now faces 15 days in Russian prison.
Two days ago, Lithuania decided to bar rail transit from Russia to a Russian Baltic Sea exclave of goods hit by European Union sanctions, in a move that drew Moscow’s strong anger amid high tensions in the region.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Lithuania was simply implementing the sanctions imposed by the EU, of which the country is a member. He said the measures implemented on Saturday were taken after “consultation with the European Commission and under its guidelines.”
This week, the lawyers of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny were denied meeting him as as planned since long. Upon their arrival to the penal colony where Navalny has been held for months, Russian authorities explained to the lawyers that Navalny simply was not there, since he had been transferred to a new maximum-security prison.
Questions regarding his whereabouts and health remain unanswered.
In March, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was convicted on charges of fraud in a trial that was entirely politically motivated and orchestrated from the Kremlin.
A couple of days after Russia launched a war on Ukraine, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially signed his country’s request for EU membership.
Last week, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen explained that the Ukrainian people are fighting bravely because they know exactly that they want their society to be free and open, belonging to a strong democratic community.
”The EU commission will stand by the Ukrainians side with all the track record we have, with all the experience we have, to achieve these reforms leading to EU accession”, von der Leyen said.
As a first step in the process, the EU executive body will present its opinion if Ukraine can receive the candidate status and start membership negotiations.
EU leaders are expected to make an assessment of the request at their next summit on June 23-24.
Professor Nenad Stojanovic: Nationalist politics might cause new conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina still contains of nationalistic tensions since the war in the 90s, because of the ruling partys continuation to operate a nationalistic agenda.
”The thing that should worry us the most is when we see that some of these policies are proto-fascist, because they advocate the ideology of “blood and soil”. And such an ideology has always proved disastrous for humanity, including the peoples in whose name it was implemented,” Stojanovic said.
The discussion must be about eliminating discrimination and reforming the electoral system, abolition of the House of Peoples at the state level, but also at the entity level, because of the unclearness to the inhabitans what they are for. The national interest can be protected within the House of Representatives.
“The international community, and especially the European Union, is still important because it represents a support for at least those residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina who are aware that the policies of certain ethno-national leaders can lead them into new conflicts”, Stojanovic finished.