STRASBOURG, France – The daughter of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has urged European Union governments to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as she collected the Sakharov Prize on his behalf during a ceremony in the French city of Strasbourg.
"I don't understand why those who advocate for pragmatic relations with dictators can't simply open some history books," Darya Navalnaya, a 20-year-old student at Stanford University in the United States, told the European Parliament on December 15 as she picked up the European Union's top human rights honor.
"The pacification of dictators and tyrants never works," she said in her speech, delivered 11 months after her father, one of Putin's most vocal critics, was sent behind bars in a case widely considered as being politically motivated.
The EU has imposed sanctions on Russian officials over both Navalny’s imprisonment and poisoning last year by what several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent.
European lawmakers chose Navalny as the recipient of the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on October 20, saying he “has campaigned consistently against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”
Navalny dedicated his prize “to all kinds of anti-corruption fighters around the world."
Navalnaya called the award "a signal to tens of millions of people, citizens of my country, who continue to fight for a better life for Russia.”
The 45-year-old anti-corruption crusader was jailed on January 17 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from the poison attack in Siberia in August 2020.
Navalny has claimed his poisoning was ordered directly by Putin, which the Kremlin denies.
In February, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of his parole from an old embezzlement case considered by human rights defenders as being politically motivated.
Navalny's 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time he had been held in detention.
More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after January rallies calling for his release. Many of the detained men and women were either fined or handed several-day jail terms At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.
Earlier this year, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and other groups associated with him were labeled as extremist and banned in Russia.