The Sakharov Prize:
Imprisoned Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize in a clear slap to President Vladimir Putin.
- The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, commonly known as the Sakharov Prize, is an honorary award for individuals or groups who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.
- Named after Russian scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament.
- The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko.
- In awarding the Sakharov Prize to Mr. Navalny, the European Parliament praised his “immense personal bravery”. The 45-year-old activist was poisoned with a nerve agent last year and promptly arrested upon his return to Moscow from treatment in Germany and later imprisoned.
- He has campaigned consistently against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
- The recognition of Mr. Navalny will further sour relations between the 27-nation bloc and Russia.
- These ties have been on the decline for years, especially following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
- It comes days after Russia suspended its mission at NATO and ordered the closure of the alliance’s office in Moscow in retaliation for NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats.