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Octobre 22, 2009

The prize of the prominent Soviet dissident A. Sakharov was for the first time awarded to Russian human rights defenders. The liberal Leonidas Donskis who has contributed a lot to the victory of this particular country representatives stresses that "the EU politicians are slowly beginning to see things clearly and to understand the real situation in Russia, although we had to do a lot of diplomatic and educational work in the backstage to find consensus".

This years Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded to Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva (Human Rights Centre Memorial), as well as all other human rights defenders in Russia.

"It is symbolic that after 20 years after A. Sakharov`s death this prize is awarded to his colleagues and to the organisation which establishment he has supported himself. However, it also shows that human rights situation in Russia is extremely poor.", - said the MEP L. Donskis.

The winner was selected from three candidates by the Conference of Presidents of the EP which consists of the chairmen of all political groups. A Palestinian obstetrician in Gaza Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish and an Eritrean journalist and political prisoner Dawit Isaak were also nominated for the award.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev (Memorial) and other human rights defenders in Russia were awarded to honour the people who continue the work of Andrei Sakharov. Memorial which seeks to perpetuate the memory of the victims of Stalinist repressions has gradually became a civil rights centre. Organisation which promotes the revelation of the truth about repressions in the former Soviet Union and human rights violations in Russia-post-Soviet states conflict zones defends refugees, victims of political persecution and discrimination.

The winners will receive the award - a certificate and a cheque for €50,000 - from the European Parliament President during the prize ceremony on 16 December in Strasbourg. 

Annual Sakharov Prize, named after a prominent Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov (1921 - 1989), was established in 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organisations that defend democracy and human rights not regarding their origin and the country they are operating in.

Previous laureates include Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar, 1990), Adem Demaci (Yugoslavia/Kosovo, 1991), Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (Argentina, 1992), Oslobođenje (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1993), Taslima Nasreen (Bangladesh, 1994), Leyla Zana (Turkey, 1995), Wei Jingsheng (China, 1996), ¡Basta Ya! (Spain, 2000), Dom Zacarias Kamwenho (Angola, 2001), Belarus Association of Journalists (2004), „Damas de blanco“ (Cuba), Hauwa Ibrahim (Nigeria) and Reporters Without Borders (France, 2005), Aliaksandr Milinkevič (Belorussia, 2006) ir Salih Mahmoud Mohamed Osman (Sudan, 2007), Hu Jia (China, 2008).

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