Press Release


Sakharov Prize – Milinkevich, EPP-ED candidate, wins the 2006 award


Meeting with Belarus opposition presidential candidate<BR>
Hans-Gert Poettering MEP, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament (on the right), and Alexander  Milinkevich, the presidential candidate of the united opposition in Belarus
The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament earlier today decided to award Alexander Milinkevich, the leader of the Belarussian opposition and former presidential candidate, the prestigious Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. This candidature was put forward by the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament.

Hans-Gert Poettering, EPP-ED Group Chairman: “Our political Group is proud that out of a prominent group of human rights activists, all of whom deserve recognition, the candidate put forward by our Group attracted most support. We sincerely hope that this award by the European Parliament will substantially help his cause.

"Alexander Milinkevich is not just the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus. He is the face of the opposition in what is the last dictatorship in Europe. He has long been an advocate for democracy. He is a brave man, who has been willing to put himself at risk in an attempt to bring about change in his country.

"Milinkevich personifies what the Sakharov Prize is all about: defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of expression; safeguarding the rights of minorities; respect for international law and the development of democracy”.

Since 1988, the European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. The prize, named after Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, honours individuals and organisations for their effort in fighting for fundamental freedoms and against oppression and injustice.

Previous winners of the Sakharov Prize include Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. In 2005 the prize was awarded to the Ladies in White from Cuba; Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim and the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

The prize will be presented during the European Parliament session in Strasbourg this December.

For further information:
EPP-ED Press Service, Robert A. Fitzhenry, tel.:+32 475 493356