Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny wins Sakharov Prize, EU’s highest human rights award

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The European Parliament on Wednesday awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights to jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who last year survived a poisoning attack that he attributes to the Kremlin.

Navalny’s organization described the award as a victory for all supporters of the “truth.”  “Sakharov’s price is of course a prize for all of you. For all the people who are not indifferent, who even in the darkest moments are not afraid to tell the truth,” Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation FBK said on Twitter. .

In a tweet, the center-right PPE group in parliament announced the award and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin “to release Alexei Navalny. Europe demands his freedom, and that of all other political prisoners.”

Navalny, also nominated but not admitted for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, was jailed in February after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for the attack.

The 45-year-old-led movement has been banned as “extremist” and some of his allies have been forced to leave Russia under pressure from the authorities.

Fighting for human rights

The Sakharov Prize, created in 1988 and named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded every year to those who fight for human rights or democracy.

Last year’s award of the 50,000-euro ($ 58,000) prize went to the movement opposing President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The award will be presented in a ceremony at a plenary session of the European Parliament in December in Strasbourg.

The other finalists for the award were a group of Afghan women for their fight for women’s rights in Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban, and Jeanine Anez, a former head of state in Bolivia who is jailed on charges of leading a coup. in 2019.

( Jowhar with AFP)