The European Parliament has awarded its most prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, to Russian human rights organization Memorial, which is headed by a trio of particularly staunch Kremlin critics. Shaken this year by the death of Natalya Estemirova and the loss of organization chief Oleg Orlov’s lawsuit with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, here’s hoping the announcement may draw some more well-deserved global attention to the perils of human right activism across the country. Orlov, and Soviet dissident rights veterans Lyudmila Alexeyeva and Sergei Kovalyov are the awarded representatives of the organization. The European parliament’s President, Jerzy Buzek, said that the aim of the prize-giving was ‘to contribute to ending the circle of fear and violence surrounding human rights defenders in the Russian Federation’.
“In fact, the prize is awarded not to us but, I think, to Memorial and to Russia’s human rights movement,” Memorial chief Oleg Orlov told RFE/RL’s Russian Service. “In my opinion, this was the right way to formulate it, and this formulation deeply satisfies me.”