MOSCOW – Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Thursday dedicated a European Parliament human rights prize he won a day earlier to anti-corruption fighters around the world.
The European Parliament on Wednesday awarded Navalny the prize, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, for his efforts in fighting corruption in Russia, a decision the Kremlin said it could not be forced to respect.
“I am just one of those many who fight corruption because I consider it not only as the cause of poverty and degradation of states, but also as the main threat to human rights,” Navalny said on Twitter in a message posted via his lawyers.
Navalny, who is serving 2-1/2 years in jail for parole violations in an embezzlement case he says was trumped up to thwart his political ambitions, said his lawyer had told him he had been awarded the Sakharov prize.
He said he had just removed his “ushanka” – the trademark Russian hat worn in winter with flaps that cover the ears – and instantly thought of his favourite photo of Sakharov, in which the Soviet dissident also wears an ushanka.
“I dedicate my prize to all kinds of anti-corruption fighters around the world: from journalists to lawyers, from officials (there are some, yes) and lawmakers, to those who take to the streets to support this fight,” he said.
“I wish them perseverance and courage even in the scariest of moments.”
(Reporting by Anton Zverev; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)