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 December 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 two and a half 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.
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