Coalition of human rights defenders was awarded Open Society Prize for documenting Russia’s war crimes

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Ukraine 5 AM Coalition was awarded the Central European University’s (CEU) Open Society Prize at the 31st commencement ceremony in Vienna on June 25.

The Coalition was recognized as the winner of the 2022 Prize for its “courageous work to document atrocities committed during the Russian war on Ukraine.”

Thank you for this prize which will return with us to Ukraine – the country that has been fighting barbarism and tyranny for all four months of this bloody war,” said Tetiana Pechonchyk, Head of Human Rights Centre ZMINA, a member organization of Ukraine 5 AM Coalition.

She told the Coalition consists of 29 human rights organizations that collect and document cases of human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by Russia during its armed aggression in Ukraine.

As Tetiana Pechonchyk commented, the last two decades of Putin’s regime have seen circles of impunity. In 2008, Russia attacked Georgia. In 2014, it occupied Crimea. In the same year, Pechonchyk adds, Russia unleashed the war in Donbas. In 2015, it entered the war in Syria and attacked the entire territory of Ukraine in 2022.

“5 AM is the time to wake up. We would prefer the world to wake up and understand: if Ukraine does not restrain Russian aggression, the war will engulf the rest of Europe in the next, sixth circle. We must all unite for justice. The senior leadership of the Russian Federation and the direct perpetrators of war crimes must finally be held accountable. The war must end for all of us,” said the human rights defender.

Kateryna Rashevska, a lawyer at the Regional Center for Human Rights, thanked the organizers during the ceremony: “It is a great honor to receive the prize once awarded to Kofi Annan, Joachim Gauck, and Doctors Without Borders. Believe me, we do not feel like heroes. We simply do everything we can to help protect democratic values ​​and human rights for those on the frontline.”

The award, given annually to a person or organization who serves the ideals of an open society, was first presented to Sir Karl Popper in 1994. Subsequent winners include 2015 Nobel Laureate for Literature Svetlana Alexievich, President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, and others. 

As a reminder, the Ukraine 5 AM Coalition, with Human Rights Centre ZMINA as its member, collects and documents war crimes and crimes against humanity amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine for national and international justice mechanisms.

Reference. The Central European University is one of the world’s most international universities, an acclaimed center for the study of economic, historical, social and political challenges, and a source of support for building open and democratic societies that respect human rights and human dignity. CEU is accredited in the United States, Austria, and Hungary. Based in Vienna, it offers English-language bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Budapest locates the non-degree and research arm of the institution: the CEU Democracy Institute, the Institute for Advanced Study, the CEU Summer School and The Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives.