Navalny wins top EU human rights award

Navalny wins top EU human rights award
© Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has won the European Union's top human rights prize.

Navalny was chosen as the recipient of The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on Wednesday after being shortlisted along with a group of Afghan women and a jailed Bolivian opposition politician, Jeanine Anez.

The EU's EPP Christian Democrat group revealed the decision in a tweet.


“Mr. Putin, free Alexei Navalny. Europe calls for his — and all other political prisoners’ — freedom,” it said.

He will most likely be unable to receive the $582,000 prize award at the official ceremony in person on Dec. 15 as he is currently imprisoned in Russia. 

The Kremlin critic was arrested in January after spending five months in Germany while seeking treatment for nerve agent poisoning. He and international leaders laid the blame for the poisoning on the Russian government, a charge since denied by Moscow. 

The EU also imposed sanctions last year on six senior Russian officials for their reported involvement in the poison attack.

Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years for violating his previous parole on his return to Russia this January, a move he said stems from a previous conviction and is politically motivated. 

Navalny has continued to advocate for Russia from prison and encouraged people to vote against Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Kremlin claims Ukraine may try to win back rebel-controlled regions by force Blinken threatens coordinated sanctions on Russia over Ukraine MORE’s party in the parliamentary elections in September.

A court in Moscow also ruled in September that his Foundation for Fighting Corruption and its other offices are labeled as extremists organizations, not allowing anyone associated with the organizations to run for office in the future.

Last year, the human rights prize was awarded to Belarus's democratic opposition that staged protests against the country's leader Alexander Lukashenko following a controversial election.