Rights activist, archaeologist, honored architect in Spain

OVIEDO, Spain (AP) — The Polish editor of one of Eastern Europe’s most popular newspapers on Friday urged those who believe in democracy to defeat the Russian president in his invasion of Ukraine and warned of the rise of “populism, nationalism and authoritarianism” in the West.

Adam Michnik, a human rights activist turned editor of the liberal Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, gave an impassioned speech after receiving this year’s Princess of Asturias Prize for Communication and Humanities.

A team of refugee Olympic athletes, a famous Mexican archaeologist and a Japanese architect were among other honorees honored on Friday at an event attended by the Spanish royal family. The awards are considered among the most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world.

“(Vladimir) Putin cannot win this war,” Michnik said at the royal gala in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo.

He said the conflict in Ukraine is “a war against the democratic world as a whole”.

“We sought to defend two essential values, freedom and truth, now threatened by Putin’s criminal aggression against Ukraine,” Michnik added.

Michnik was a dissident who was a prominent figure in Poland’s pro-democracy Solidarity movement and was imprisoned in the 1980s for his efforts to end his country’s repressive communist regime. The awards jury said Michnik had become “a symbol of freedom of expression”.

Other winners have had equally dazzling achievements. Eduardo Matos Moctezuma led the excavations of the Great Aztec Temple in Mexico City, a historic event in the archaeological world, which earned him this year’s prize in the social sciences category.

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban won the Concord Prize for his pioneering work in designing temporary shelters for people affected by natural disasters and armed conflict.

Ellen MacArthur, a British sailor who set world records for single-handed yachting before founding a charity that champions a sustainable lifestyle, has received the Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

The Olympic Refugee Foundation and the Olympic Refugee Team, which, according to the jury of the prize, defend the values ​​of integration, education, solidarity and humanity, won the sports prize.

Four foreign scientists received the Technical and Scientific Research Award for their pioneering work in artificial intelligence.

Juan Mayorga, one of Spain’s most popular and respected playwrights, won the literature prize.

The Fine Arts Prize was awarded to two personalities from the world of flamenco, singer Carmen Linares and choreographer-dancer María Pagés, both from southern Spain, for modernizing the Spanish dance form.

The prizes, which net the winners 50,000 euros ($49,800), are awarded annually by a foundation named in honor of Spain’s Crown Princess Leonor.


AP journalists Aritz Parra in Oviedo, Spain, and Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.

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