Imprisoned Russian Activist Awarded Sakharov Prize, EU’s Top Recognition

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Jailed Russian absorption person Aleksei Navalny was awarded the European Union’s apical quality rights prize connected Wednesday for his efforts successful challenging President Vladimir Putin’s grip connected power.

“He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime. This outgo him his liberty and astir his life. Today’s prize recognises his immense bravery and we reiterate our telephone for his contiguous release,” European Parliament President David Sassoli wrote connected Twitter.

Navalny’s designation with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought volition apt heighten tensions betwixt Russia and the European bloc.

Navalny, 45, was allegedly poisoned with a nervus cause successful August past twelvemonth portion successful the Siberian metropolis of Tomsk. Russian authorities had denied involvement. However, investigative reporters from The Insider and Bellingcat person named Russian information officers liable for the incident. The EU has called for his contiguous merchandise and sanctioned six Russian officials for Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment.

Navalny was undergoing attraction successful Germany and was arrested by the authorities connected his instrumentality to Russia successful January. He is presently serving a 2.5-year condemnation successful a penal colony for alleged parole violations.

Navalny was a increasing YouTube improvement with trending investigative videos into the corruption of the Russian elites. The Kremlin critic’s claims person turned him into a starring absorption figure.

However, Moscow remains defiant regarding the allegations saying that Western powers were organizing a smear run against the state portion maintaining that Navalny was jailed for breaking the law.

On June 9, a tribunal successful Moscow classified Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation arsenic an extremist outfit. This gave leverage for section Russian authorities to prosecute his allies passim the country, and halt the NGO’s activities. Many of his supporters person fled abroad.

“Putin calls Navalny a transgression blogger, but helium is unsocial successful this. Alexei Navalny is simply a person who fights for justness contempt each the threats and assassination attempts,” wrote Navalny’s squad connected Telegram. “And we are definite that Putin is not pleased to perceive astir this.”

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched an inquiry successful September against Navalny claiming that his “extremist” instauration aimed astatine “changing the foundations of the law strategy successful the Russian Federation.” Navalny has denied the allegations, and said that they were politically motivated. If proven, the charges could support him successful jailhouse for different decade.

According to Marat Gelman who spoke with RFE/RL, the Kremlin volition marque usage of its power successful Russian media to discount the story, and “neutralize immoderate interaction astatine home.”

“It volition not alteration opinions of Navalny,” Gelman said. Allies volition beryllium blessed but “people who ticker [Russian state] tv … volition person 1 much affirmation that Navalny is simply a scoundrel, an American agent.”

Named aft Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov, the Sakharov Prize is awarded annually by the European Parliament for activists and organizations that beforehand quality rights and freedoms.

This year’s nominees included jailed erstwhile Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez, Sahrawi activistic Sultana Khaya and 11 Afghan women who were warring for women’s rights successful Afghanistan earlier the Taliban seized power.

Past winners see Venezuela’s antiauthoritarian absorption and South African president Nelson Mandela.

Naveen Athrappully