Václav Havel Prize to be spent on new teeth for those tortured by the Russians
In September 2023, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group director was one of the three nominees shortlisted for the Vaclav Havel Prize. This prize is awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and honors outstanding civil society action in defense of human rights.
The nominees also included Polish activist and lawyer Yustyna Vydzhynska and Turkish political prisoner Osman Kavala, who was announced as the winner of the award during the ceremony in Strasbourg.
On December 18, PACE reported that Osman Kavala decided to divide the cash award of 60 thousand euros equally between the three nominees.
In her speech, Ayşe Buğra, Osman Kavala’s wife, dedicated the award to “human rights defenders and civil society activists who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, often at the risk of their lives while subjecting themselves to persecution and illegal detention.”
Consequently, the Ukrainian Evgeniy Zakharov and the Polish Yustyna Vydzhynska will receive 20 thousand euros each.
Mr. Zakharov decided to donate the entire amount to install implants for people whose teeth were knocked out in Russian torture chambers in the occupied territories, as well as to help front-line hospitals in the Kharkiv and Sumy Regions.
“I am very touched by the generous and noble decision of a Turkish human rights activist serving a life sentence to donate a third of the prize money to two other Václav Havel Prize nominees. I use these funds exclusively to help those who have seriously suffered from the Russian occupiers — there will be something to give back to those who had their teeth knocked out by Russian criminals in their torture chambers. We have ten such clients,” — commented Zakharov.
The director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group believes that the ideals of Vaclav Havel are lacking in modern Ukraine, in which citizens are wary of the land market, academic and intellectual freedom, and wealthy individuals.
Earlier, the Kharkiv human rights group, together with paramedic Yulia Paevskaya and the Klitschko brothers, received the Lev Kopelev Prize “For Freedom and Human Rights” for 2023.
The organization also received half of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Memorial and has already helped hundreds of Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion.