Navalny’s recognition with the human rights prize will put a further damper on relations between the 27-nation bloc and Russia.

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s main critic, was awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize on Wednesday, AP reports.

In a sign of open criticism of the Kremlin, the leaders of the European Parliament picked the Russian politician for the Sakharov Prize. Other candidates had been a group of Afghan women, and imprisoned Bolivian politician and former interim President Jeanine Anez.

The parliament’s EPP Christian Democrat group announced the decision in a tweet.

“Mr. Putin, free Alexei Navalny. Europe calls for his — and all other political prisoners’ — freedom,” it said.


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