We are grateful to the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) for honouring Truth Hounds with the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award.
This award was established by the NHC in 1980, with the support of physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov. It recognises those who resist oppressive state machinery that encroaches on the values of human rights.
This year, representatives of Ukraine received the award for the first time. It comes at a time when millions of Ukrainians are united in struggle against Russian imperialism which seeks to destroy Ukrainian identity and erase Ukraine from the map.
Today, the world is witnessing the culmination of a struggle that Ukrainian men and women have been waging for centuries – a struggle the echo of which was for decades muffled by the intensity of Russia’s totalitarian embrace. The sight of the weapons of war and the spilling of blood on the European continent in the 21st century made this confrontation obvious and palpable for many countries around the world. However, for many, making sense of this war and unravelling the narratives spread by Russia are battles yet to come. The common task of all freedom-loving states and peoples is to ensure that nowhere in the world will Russia be able to hide from its responsibility for genocide and other international crimes.
As of March 2023, around 20% of Ukraine’s territory is occupied by Russia. Some of these towns and villages have already been under occupation for nine years. No matter the occupation-affect region of Ukraine we document, we are consistently faced with one thing – the methodical destruction of ‘Ukrainianness’ (that is to say the Ukrainian identity itself) through targeted killings, torture, deportations, and destruction of cultural heritage.
We accept this award on behalf of all Ukrainian citizens who have and continue to be killed, persecuted, and deported/resettled to the Russian Federation precisely because they have the courage to feel they are Ukrainians and to declare it unashamedly, even now. We accept this award on behalf of all those people who have entrusted us with some of the worst memories of their lives over these last nine years.
This award belongs to everyone who fights against attempts to destroy Ukrainianness. And it is for everyone who in the future will be able to read the truth in the pages of history textbooks, as well as live in a world where the strength of global solidarity and justice have triumphed over evil and impunity.
Battle on — and win your battle!