Alexei Navalny - Renew Europe Group’s candidate - wins the Sakharov Prize 2021

Author: Lucian Goleanu

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The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament, today, decided to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2021 to Renew Europe Group’s candidate, Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist, described as "the man Vladimir Putin fears most".

Navalny came to international prominence by organising demonstrations, and running for office to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Putin's government. He became the ultimate symbol of oppression in Russia, backed by so many ordinary citizens who fear to speak up.

Renew Europe MEP, Guy Verhofstadt (Open Vld, Belgium), who advocated for Navalny’s nomination said:

“Proud I proposed Alexey Navalny for the Sakharov Prize. His bravery for freedom of thought and expression show how they are the precondition for democratic politics, human dignity and peace... in Russia and around the world.”

The Conference of Presidents also backed our Group’s proposal to organise a European week completely dedicated to Afghan women, one of the shortlisted candidates for the Sakharov Prize 2021, tackling concrete issues and bringing change on the ground.

Renew Europe Group President, Stéphane Séjourné (La République en marche, France) welcomed today’s decisions and congratulated Alexei Navalny for becoming a laureate of the Sakharov Prize:

“Today, by deciding to award the Sakharov Prize 2021 to Alexei Navalny, Renew Europe Group and the European Parliament stand united behind the courage and the sacrifices of a man who became the symbol of the authoritarian excesses of the Russian regime. Navalny’s determination in his fight for freedom of expression and fundamental rights is an example for all of us and we have a duty to make every effort to secure his release from prison, without forgetting the hundreds of political prisoners who share his fate.”

“Given the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and its gender dimension, I also welcome the CoP decision to approve our initiative on a European Week for Afghan Women. We must play a greater role in addressing this emergency situation and take greater responsibility. The EU should be present in this crisis and send a strong message to all Afghan women and the world, by showing our solidarity with their struggle.”

Note to editors:

On 20 August 2020, Navalny was hospitalised and left in a serious, but stable condition, after a Novichok poisoning during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Five months later, after he recovered from coma in Germany, he returned to Moscow, where he was immediately arrested at the airport.

On 2 February 2021, a Moscow court sentenced him to two and a half years imprisonment for the alleged violation of his probation for the 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement, while he was recovering in Germany. On 31 March 2021, Navalny began a 23 day-long hunger strike in protest after prison authorities failed to provide him with adequate medical care or allow his own doctors to visit him. On 9 June 2021, a Moscow court banned Navalny’s regional network offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation, classifying them as "extremist". Alexei Navalny is incarcerated under harsh conditions in a high security penal colony, where he is subject to sleep deprivation and other psychological torture.

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