The Russian human rights organization Memorial and its representatives Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalyov and Lyudmila Alekseyeva are the laureates of this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded by the European Parliament. Commenting on this, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office Günter Nooke issued the following statement from Kathmandu today (22 October):
“I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to Memorial and its staff on receiving this year’s Sakharov Prize.
It is a recognition of the brave and resolute commitment of people who have fought for over 20 years, often at great risk, for freedom, democracy and the respect of human rights in Russia.
This great personal commitment has cost Memorial activists like Natalya Estimirova their lives. That is why the well-deserved recognition of Memorial’s work is such an important gesture. In awarding the prize to this organization, the European Parliament has shown solidarity with the courageous efforts on behalf of the rule of law and democracy in Russia.”
The Sakharov Prize, named after the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 by the European Parliament to individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the fight for human rights, democracy and freedom of thought. The award is endowed with 50,000 euro.
The non-governmental organization Memorial, whose founders include Andrei Sakharov and Sergei Kovalyov, is one of the leading human rights organizations in Russia. Since 1988 it has been committed to the investigation of Stalinist crimes and to promoting the development of a free democratic society.In particular, Memorial focuses on the human rights situation in the northern Caucasus.