Monday

8th Mar 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Frontex's 'serious incident reports' - revealed

Out of the seven serious incident reports shared with this website, five deal with allegations against Greek authorities, while the remainder describe separate incidents in Germany and Hungary.

Coronavirus

Women hit 'disproportionately' hard by Covid-19, report finds

The pandemic has proven to be a major challenge for gender equality across Europe, where domestic violence and existing inequalities have exacerbated, a report has found. Meanwhile, domestic violence spiked during the spring of 2020 across Europe.

Agenda

EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

MEPs will give the green light for a more united EU health policy, a new investment plan, and debate the Covid recovery fund, which is yet to be unleashed. Lawmakers will also debate media freedom in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

Agenda

EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

MEPs will give the green light for a more united EU health policy, a new investment plan, and debate the Covid recovery fund, which is yet to be unleashed. Lawmakers will also debate media freedom in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account

MEPs probing the EU's border agency Frontex cross-examined the agency's director. They also spoke to EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, who made it clear she had little sway over the agency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Frontex's 'serious incident reports' - revealed
  2. Women hit 'disproportionately' hard by Covid-19, report finds
  3. EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK
  4. Covid-19 recovery: How to miss the target even with a bazooka
  5. Who cares? Precarious situation facing 21st century heroines
  6. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  7. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  8. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us