Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The European Parliament’s annual award was given to him for exposing corruption in Russia and his efforts to curb freedoms in the country.
Navalny was on a shortlist with a group of Afghan women and an Bolivian opposition politician. He was declared the winner by European lawmakers, announced the European People’s Party, which is the largest political entity in the European Parliament. Navalny, one of the most vocal critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was jailed at a Moscow airport in January shortly after returning from Berlin, where he recovered from nerve agent poisoning.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russian officials for poisoning and imprisoning him. Navalny, 45, was then sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison for allegedly violating parole. He has said the charges against him are politically motivated.
Last year, the Sakharov Prize was awarded to Belarus’ democratic opposition, which has staged several protests against authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenko. Previous winners of the award include: former South African President Nelson Mandela, Venezuela’s democratic opposition and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai.
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