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Alexei Navalny awarded European Parliament human rights award

Alexei Navalny awarded European Parliament human rights award
Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought on Wednesday in recognition of his human rights work as the leader of the opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Wednesday was granted a prestigious award by the European Parliament recognizing his human rights work.

Navalny, 45, was awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament President David Sassoli announced.

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"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life," said Sassoli. "Today's prize recognizes his immense bravery and we reiterate our call for his immediate release."

Navalny is currently detained in Russia after he was sentenced in February to two and a half years in prison for violating his parole conditions after he was arrested immediately upon returning to Russia from Germany where he received treatment for Novichok poisoning that left him in a coma as he traveled in Siberia.

In April, he appeared gaunt as he participated in a hearing to appeal a libel conviction after ending a three-week hunger strike.

A staunch opponent of Putin, Navalny has been arrested multiple times for organizing and participating in protests against the Russian president.

He was also banned from running for president against Putin, or seeking any other political office, after placing second in Moscow's mayoral election in 2013.

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The Sakharov Prize is named after Soviet physicist Andrei Sakharov and was launched in 1988 to "honor exceptional individuals and organizations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms," according to the European Parliament.

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