Jailed Kremlin Critic Navalny Wins Europe’s Rights Prize

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) – Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been awarded the European Parliament’s top human rights prize for his “bravery” in challenging autocratic President Vladimir Putin.

Parliament President David Sassoli was among the first to congratulate Navalny on winning the 50,000 euro ($58,000) Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

He said Navalny, 45, “fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life. Today’s prize recognizes his immense bravery, and we reiterate our call for his immediate release.”

The Kremlin critic was nominated by the European People’s Party (EPP) and Renew Europe groups for his “courage in fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

Named after Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament. It honors individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to defending human rights and freedom of thought.

Dutch Christian Peter van Dalen was among the European legislators who nominated Navalny on behalf of his Christian Union (CU) party, part of the EPP. Van Dalen told Worthy News that “it is quite right that the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought should be awarded to Navalny.”


He noted that Navalny “is constantly opposing Vladimir Putin’s regime, despite the Russian president’s efforts to silence him in every possible way.”

Van Dalen stressed that Navalny “almost paid the highest price” for his fight with his life. “He has been bullied, harassed, imprisoned, arrested, poisoned, and re-arrested countless times since 2006.”

Known by millions through his social media outlets LiveJournal blog, YouTube, and Twitter, Navalny came to international prominence by organizing pro-democracy protests.

He also ran for office and advocated reforms against corruption in Russia and what he saw as the autocratic style of President Putin and his government.

In August 2020, while on a trip to Russia’s Siberia region, he was poisoned. Navalny spent months recovering in Berlin, Germany but returned to Moscow in January 2021, where he was arrested.

In February, he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, Navalny went on a 23-day hunger strike in April to protest what he said was a lack of medical care.


In June 2021, a Russian court banned Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

“As far as I am concerned, there is, therefore, no other person who meets the criteria of this award as well as Navalny,” Van Dalen told Worthy News in a statement.

“He is truly committed to freedom of thought,” the Dutchman added.

Van Dalen said he hopes a large group in Russia “may also feel supported” by the award: “In addition to Navalny, we also honor the enormous list of others who have been victims of Putin’s regime in recent years,” he said.

“Navalny is, therefore, the icon of resistance against the dictator in Moscow.”

There was no immediate response from the Kremlin. It is unlikely that Navalny will be able to attend the official presentation of the Sakharov Prize on December 15 in Strasbourg, France.

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