The German civil society organization Die AnStifter has awarded Maria Kalesnikava, opposition politician and one of the key figures in the protests against the Lukashenko regime, with the 2021 Stuttgart Peace Prize.
The rationale behind this decision is that Kalesnikava is awarded for her courageous struggle against the autocratic regime of Alexander Lukashenko and for her human rights activities.
Maria Kalesnikava, who had lived in Stuttgart for 12 years, returned to Belarus in 2020, where she became a presidential campaign manager for the opposition presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. She was arrested in September 2020. In May 2021, Kalesnikava was arraigned on the charges of calling for actions against national security, conspiracy to seize state power in an unconstitutional manner, and establishing and leading an extremist organization. According to Babaryka’s headquarters, she could face up to 12 years in prison.