Russia’s Alexei Navalny who is the opposition leader and a hardline critic of President Vladimir Putin has been awarded the prestigious European human rights Sakharov Prize.
The prize carries an award of $58,000 which is normally presented at a ceremony on the 15th of December in Strasbourg, France.
However, Navalny is currently in jail and would not be available to receive the price. Navalny has been barred from running against Putin in the Russian presidential election.
Russian Opposition leader @Navalny is the laureate of the 2021 #SakharovPrize for Freedom of Thought.
Mr. Putin, free Alexei #Navalny. Europe calls for his – and all other political prisoners’ – freedom.#freenavalny pic.twitter.com/txf46QNV4k— EPP Group (@EPPGroup) October 20, 2021
The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was named after Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov.
It was launched in 1988 to “honor exceptional individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms,” according to the European Parliament.
Previous winners have included Belarusian opposition figures, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.
European Parliament President David Sassoli “He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the European Parliament’s decision to award its top human rights prize to Navalny.
According to Stoltenberg, “I think it’s an important recognition of the important role he has played for many years in supporting democratic values and being a strong voice in Russia.”
President Biden said he had raised Navalny’s case with Russian President Vladimir Putin in June.
Biden has also previously warned Moscow that any poor treatment of Navalny would hurt relations with the U.S and the rest of the world.
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