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Navalny Brothers To Receive Antitotalitarianism Prize

Russian opposition leader and anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny (front) and his brother and co-defendant Oleg attend a court hearing in Moscow in December 2014.

MOSCOW -- Outspoken Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and his brother Oleg have been awarded a top prize awarded to raise awareness about totalitarian regimes.

Members of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience voted to award the Navalny brothers "in recognition of their personal courage, struggle, and sacrifices for upholding fundamental democratic values and freedoms in the Russian Federation today," according to a statement on the nongovernmental organization's website.

"By the award of the Prize, the Platform wishes to express its respect and support to Mr. Oleg Navalny, whom the Platform considers a political prisoner, and to Mr. Aleksei Navalny for his efforts to expose corruption, defend political pluralism, and opposition to the mounting authoritarian regime in the Russian Federation," the statement said.

Aleksei Navalny wrote on Twitter on May 5 that the award ceremony will be held in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, on May 6.

Aleksei Navalny is a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was a driving force behind street protests in Moscow in 2011-12.

He and his brother Oleg were found guilty in December of large-scale theft from two Russian firms between 2008 and 2012. Aleksei Navalny was handed a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence, while Oleg Navalny is serving a 3 1/2-year prison term in a penal colony in Russia's Oryol region.

Both brothers reject the charges as politically motivated.

At the time of his sentencing, Aleksei Navalny was already serving a suspended sentence on a separate theft conviction. He claimed those charges, too, came in retaliation for his opposition activities.

The Prize of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience is awarded annually to individuals actively involved in the fight against totalitarianism, for the ideals of democracy, fundamental human rights and freedoms, and the rule of law.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is a nongovernmental organization that bridges 18 countries and nearly 50 institutions across the Atlantic. Through its members it represents at least 200,000 European citizens and over 1 million North American citizens.