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Russian Activist Navalny Fails To Make Sakharov Prize Shortlist


Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

BRUSSELS -- Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny has not been shortlisted for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

In a secret vote on October 8, members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Development Committees instead shortlisted Brazilian human rights defenders Marielle Franco and Claudelice Silva dos Santos; Ilham Tohti, an advocate for China’s Uyghur minority; and the Restorers, a group of students from Kenya fighting against female genital mutilation.

Navalny had been nominated by the biggest group in the European Parliament, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP).

Several people who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity expressed surprise that Navalny had not been shortlisted but said that some in the EPP were not happy with his nomination, without being more specific.

Navalny has been one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics for the better part of a decade, enduring multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor's post.

The winner will be announced on October 24 and the prize ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in December.

The annual prize is named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov and was established in 1988 by the European Parliament to honor individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak
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