Thursday

20th Jul 2017

Pussy Riot lead nominees for EU freedom prize

  • Pro-Pussy-Riot flashmob in London - the human rights case has caught people's attention in Europe (Photo: Eyes on Rights)

Jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot are among nominees for the European Parliament's Sakharov prize after MEPs confirmed five candidates for the human rights award.

The candidates were discussed by MEPs on Tuesday (25 September) in a joint meeting of the foreign affairs, development, and human rights committees.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Previous winners of the award, which was created by the Parliament in 1988 to honour Soviet nuclear scientist and Nobel peace prize winner Andrei Sakharov, include former South African President Nelson Mandela and Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi. It was won by five Arab spring activists in 2011.

Proposing the group's nomination, which was backed by 46 MEPs, German Green deputy Werner Schultz praised the women for having "shone a light on and protested against an autocratic system with courage, creativity and inner force."

He added that they had managed to "attract international attention to a state which is moving further and further away from western values."

The punk group, famed for unannounced performances in well-known public places, hit the headlines in March when three of its members - Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina - were arrested and charged with hooliganism after protesting in a cathedral against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In August, they were sentenced to two years in a labour camp after a trial widely condemned as unfair and politically motivated by NGOs and foreign diplomats.

The EU parliament nomination met with bemusement in Moscow.

In a tersely worded statement, the Russian foreign ministry described the move as "a crude attempt to interfere with the work of an independent branch of the Russian government and an endeavour to question a decision of the court that delivered its verdict in due process."

Meanwhile, Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski and 82 other MEPs led support for Ales Bialiatski, a jailed freedom of speech activist in Belarus.

He founded the Viasna Human Rights Centre, an NGO which provides financial and legal assistance to political prisoners and their families.

Three imprisoned Rwandan opposition leaders - Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Deogratias Mushayidi and Bernard Ntaganda - were nominated for their role in the country's reconciliation process, as was Joseph Francis, the founder of a legal centre for victims of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi, an Iranian lawyer and film-maker respectively, also made the shortlist.

The five nominees will be whittled down to three following a vote by the foreign affairs and development committees in October.

The winner will then be chosen by the parliament's political group leaders and invited to a ceremony in December.

EU to Russia: Free Pussy Riot

The EU has called for Russia to reverse the jailing of three young women over their "punk prayer" against Putin and the Russian church.

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable