By RFE RL
By Rikard Jozwiak
(RFE/RL) — European lawmakers have nominated Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The center-right European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament, said on September 18 that it had picked Navalny because “he does not only defend freedom of thought in Russia, but is one of the few voices of truth” in the country.
Navalny has been one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics for the better part of a decade, enduring multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor’s post.
The deadline for nominations for the prestigious Sakharov Prize is September 19.
Other nominees include Ilham Tohti, an advocate for China’s Uyghur minority who is serving a life sentence on separatism-related charges.
On September 30, all the nominees will be officially presented at the European Parliament’s committees on foreign affairs and development, which will shortlist three of them.
The laureate is to be announced on October 24.
The annual prize is named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov and was established in 1988 by the EU’s parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Last year’s winner, the Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov, has yet to collect the prize
Sentsov was released from Russian custody earlier this month as part of a prisoner swap with Ukraine.