In a major upset that defied the expectations of the gambling world and disgruntled his top supporters, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was passed over by the Nobel Committee’s decision in its award of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
The committee announced Friday that the prize has been awarded to three groups who are “champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.”
This includes imprisoned Belarus activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights group Memorial, and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.
The committee praised the three on Twitter, saying: “For their consistent efforts in favour of humanist values, anti-militarism and principles of law, this year’s #NobelPeacePrize laureates have revitalised and honoured Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace and fraternity between nations – a vision most needed in the world today.”
Bialiatski is currently imprisoned in Belarus and facing charges of tax evasion. He is the founder of the Viasna Human Rights Center.
According to Newsweek, Bialiatski has championed the pro-democracy movement since the 1980s when he pushed for Belarus to become an independent state outside of the Soviet Union.
Bialiatski, who was arrested for tax evasion in 2011 and again in 2021, has maintained his innocence, calling the charges politically motivated.
Memorial, a Russian human rights group, is known for having campaigned for political prisoners as well as speaking out against human rights abuses allegedly committed by Russian troops in Chechnya and Syria. The group has since been legally dissolved.
The Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties was founded in 2007 and has been praised for its role in preserving democracy in the country.
Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said of the group: “The center has taken a stand to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and pressure the authorities to make Ukraine a full-fledged democracy, to develop Ukraine into a state governed by rule of law.”
The peace prize, which is given out annually, comes amid conflicts between Ukraine and Russia, who are currently waging war over disputed territory.
As the announcement for the awards approached, many speculated that Zelenskyy would receive the prize for his role in leading his country’s fight against an invasion by Russia — a battle that some have labeled a fight between democracy and dictatorship.
In fact, according to Newsweek, Zelenskyy was the bookmakers’ favorite to win, with odds of 19-10.
He also topped Time magazine’s list of likely Nobel winners, which was published Tuesday. None of the three co-winners made Time’s list.
Zelenskyy has not yet commented on the awards, nor congratulated the winners, according to The Associated Press.
However, Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has spoken critically of the committee after hearing who the winners were.
“The Nobel Committee has a uniquely interesting understanding of the word ‘peace’, if the Nobel Prize is received together by representatives of two countries that attacked a third,” Podolyak wrote, in part, on Twitter.
Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word “peace” if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive @NobelPrize together. Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations were able to organize resistance to the war. This year’s Nobel is “awesome”.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) October 7, 2022
Oleksandra Matviychuk, the head of the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, also warned others not to lump the three award-winning groups together.
“We don’t see — and we shouldn’t see — this prize … as a Soviet narrative about brotherhood nations,” Matviychuk said at a press conference on Saturday, the AP reported.
She added, “This is a story about fighting against a common enemy.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.