Former Polish dissident and editor wins top Spanish prize

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FILE – Former dissident and mastermind behind Poland’s peaceful transition from communism to democracy Adam Michnik speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland May 25, 2014. Michnik, a former Polish dissident and human rights activist who is editor of one of the most popular newspapers in Eastern Europe, has won one of Spain’s most prestigious awards. The jury that decides the Princess of Asturias Awards announced on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 that Michnik has won its annual prize for communication and the humanities. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

MADRID – A former Polish dissident and human rights activist, editor of one of Eastern Europe’s most popular newspapers, has won a prestigious Spanish award.

The jury that decides the Princess of Asturias Awards announced on Wednesday that Adam Michnik had won its annual prize for communication and the humanities.

The jury said the 75-year-old was honored “for his commitment to quality journalism and for his influence in restoring and defending democracy in Poland”.

The citation noted that Michnik was a prominent figure in Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity movement and had been imprisoned in the 1980s for his efforts to end his country’s repressive communist regime.

After Poland’s communist leaders were overthrown in the 1989 elections, Michnik took a seat in parliament and was a co-founder of the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

“Michnik, whose idea of ​​Europe helped democratic values ​​take root in his country, is today a symbol of freedom of expression and humanism, as well as a moral example of resistance against authoritarian threats,” the jury said.

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Poland and the European Union have for years been at odds over issues related to respect for democratic standards and the separation of powers in the eastern country.

The 50,000 euro ($53,000) prize is one of eight prizes, including in the arts, social sciences and sports, awarded each year by a foundation named in honor of Spain’s Crown Princess Leonor.

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