What does the Sakharov Prize mean for Navalny?
Alexei Navalny's daughter Daria accepted the Sakharov Prize on her imprisoned father's behalf at the EU Parliament, but criticised the political pragmatism in the bloc's dealings with Putin and Lukashenka. Parliament President David Sassoli praised Navalny's courage and called for his immediate release before handing her the prize, which has been awarded since 1988 to defenders of human rights.
Lonely Russian democrats
Symbolic prizes and pretty words are not enough, says ABC:
“The award ceremony coincides with the dissolution of Memorial, the NGO founded in 1989 by Andrei Sakharov and persecuted by the Kremlin, and the summit with which the EU yesterday expressed its moral support for those countries living under the threat of Russian imperialism. ... The bureaucracy in Brussels offers nothing more to Russian democrats in their loneliness and oppression than an automatic, knee-jerk reaction in the form of verbal condemnation, sanctions and complaints. ... The impact of this policy is nil, for Putin and even more so for the democrats. Yet they are the only hope for change in Russia and its sphere of influence.”
So different and yet so similar
Echo of Moscow compares the laureate with the prize's namesake:
“Navalny has not written manifestos or developed concepts, and he never resorted to sentimentality. But today he is synonymous with courage and the willingness to take the bull by the horns even if it means putting his life at risk. Sakharov did the same when he went on his marathon hunger strike. Symbols of freedom can be so different: a shuffling, buckled old man who has trouble talking - or a pithy young man bursting with energy who acts like a tribune of the people. It's astonishing how similar the regime is in both cases: both Brezhnev's USSR and Putin's Russia are bleak, they isolate themselves, they see enemies everywhere, they have creaky joints and bloated armies and ailing economies.”
A civilisation of brutality
Navalny's award comes at a good time, Postimees applauds:
“At the same time as Navalny is being honoured, we are witnessing two new waves of repression against human rights. In Russia, the court case aimed at disbanding the human rights group Memorial is underway. In Belarus, court rulings against the opposition have now reached the husband of exiled politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Sergei Tikhanovsky was sentenced to 18 years in prison. This shows that a civilisation of brutality is being planned and constructed beyond our eastern border. The people there have one choice: either they accept the brutality or they experience it first-hand.”