German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described Navalny’s Sakharov Prize as an “unequivocal call” from the EU to release the opposition leader. “Alexei Navalny symbolizes, like no one else, what a bitter price sometimes one has to pay for political and social activity,” the German Foreign Minister said on Wednesday, October 20.
Heiko Mas recalled that Navalny narrowly escaped death after being poisoned with Novichok poison, and is currently serving time on the basis of an “arbitrary and obviously disproportionately harsh sentence”, which was previously recognized by the ECHR. “This award is an unequivocal appeal to Russia to finally free Alexei Navalny!” – emphasized the German minister.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the decision of the European Parliament to award Navalny the Sakharov Prize. The award was a recognition of “the important role that Navalny played in protecting democratic values in Russia,” the head of the North Atlantic Alliance noted.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny won the 2021 Sakharov Prize, awarded by the European Parliament for freedom of thought. Navalny’s candidacy was nominated by the largest faction of the European Parliament, the EPP, and the third largest fraction of deputies, the Renew Europe faction, “for his courage in the struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights.”