The Nobel Peace Prize 2022
Founded: 1987, Moscow, Russia
Prize motivation: “The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy”
Prize share: 1/3
The fight for human rights and democracy
Memorial was founded in the former Soviet Union in 1987. Its initiators included the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and human rights defender Svetlana Gannushkina. The organisation documented the victims of the crimes committed during the Stalinist era.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the organisation continued this work while also focusing on human rights violations in Russia. During the Chechen wars (1994-1996 and 1999-2009), Memorial gathered information on abuses and war crimes committed against the civilian population by Russian and pro-Russian forces. The head of Memorial’s branch in Chechnya, Natalia Estemirova, was murdered because of her role in this work.
In 2016, the authorities declared Memorial to be a foreign agent, and in 2021 the Russian Supreme Court ruled that Memorial was to be liquidated because it had defended the rights of persons who allegedly had ties to terrorist organisations. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, the authorities declared Memorial to be illegal and took over the offices of the forcibly dissolved organisation.