Alexei Navalny awarded the European Parliament’s 2021 Sakharov Prize
MEPs have awarded Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny the European Parliament’s 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala announced the 2021 laureate in the Strasbourg plenary chamber on Wednesday afternoon, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders).
Fighting corruption in Russia
Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He came to international prominence for organising demonstrations against President Putin and his government, running for office and advocating for anti-corruption reforms. In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned and spent months recovering in Berlin. He was arrested on his return to Moscow in January 2021. He is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, with more than two years still remaining. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, Navalny went on a long hunger strike in late March 2021 to protest his lack of access to medical care. In June 2021, a Russian court banned Alexei Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation, both now classified as extremist and undesirable by the Russian authorities.
The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 15 December in Strasbourg. Read more about the other Sakharov Prize finalists in 2021 here.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is €50,000.
Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to the democratic opposition of Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.