The European Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize to the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

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The European Parliament awarded its 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience to the Russian opposition leader on Wednesday Alexei Navalny, one of the voices most critical of the Kremlin in Vladimir Putin. Navalny suffered an assassination attempt by poisoning last year and is now incarcerated in one of the harshest prisons in Russia.

The European Parliament has demanded that Putin immediately release Navalny and the rest of the Russian political prisoners. European governments have also repeatedly called on the Kremlin to release Navalny, to date without success.

“Navalny has tirelessly fought against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime. It has cost him his freedom and almost his life. Today’s award recognizes his immense courage and We reiterate our call for his immediate release“, has written the President of Parliament, David Sassoli, on your Twitter account. Sassoli has participated virtually in the deliberations because she continues to recover from pneumonia.

Navalny’s candidacy – sponsored by the European People’s Party and the liberal group Renew – prevailed over the other two candidacies in the final vote at the conference of presidents of the European Parliament: Afghan women, proposed by the European Socialists and Greens; and the former interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, nominated by the European Conservatives and Reformists.

Navalny receives the Sakharov Prize for “his courage in fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights”. He made himself known to the rest of the world after calling demonstrations, running for president and advocating for anti-corruption reforms in Russia, President Vladimir Putin and his government. He has millions of followers on his LiveJournal blog and YouTube and Twitter accounts.

During a trip to Siberia in August 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a chemical agent. He spent several months being treated in Berlin, but returned to Moscow in January 2021, when he was arrested. In February he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for the alleged breach of probation conditions during the time he was recovering in Germany.

The European Union considers that this condemnation “it is an unacceptable decision, dictated by political motives, and contrary to Russia’s human rights obligations. “

To protest the lack of medical care in the high-security prison colony where he is being held, Navalny went on a 24-day hunger strike. A Russian court banned his anti-corruption foundation in June 2021. A decision that according to the EU “confirms a negative pattern of systematic repression of human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Russian Constitution. “

The Sakharov Prize for freedom of conscience, awarded each year by the European Parliament, was created in 1988 to reward personalities or groups who strive to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms. The award consists of a certificate and 50,000 euros, to be delivered at a ceremony in Parliament on December 16.

The winner last year was the democratic opposition of Belarus. In previous editions, the democratic opposition of Venezuela or the Ladies in White in Cuba have been awarded.

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The European Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize to the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny