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Afghan Women Shortlisted For EU's Sakharov Prize

European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David McAllister (file photo)

Jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, a group of Afghan women, and a jailed Bolivian opposition politician are the final three candidates for the European Parliament's top human rights prize.

The announcement of the shortlisted finalists for this year's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was made on October 14 in Brussels by David McAllister, chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

McAllister said the nomination of the 12 Afghan women was "a strong signal of support for safeguarding women's rights and fundamental rights and those who defend them not only in Afghanistan but also worldwide."

The Afghan women include: Shaharzad Akbar, Mary Akrami, Zarifa Ghafari, Palwasha Hassan, Freshta Karim, Sahraa Karimi, Metra Mehran, Horia Mosadiq, Sima Samar, Habiba Sarabi, and Anisa Shaheed.

McAllister said the nomination of Navalny "recognizes and underscores the efforts of a courageous individual to stand up for democratic governance, the rule of law, civic freedoms, and the fight against corruption."

Navalny was jailed in January after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for a poisoning he said was ordered by the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies.

Navalny was subsequently sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on a parole violation charge that he denounces as politically motivated.

The third and final candidate shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize is Jeanine Anez, a jailed Bolivian opposition politician.

The winner is due to be announced on October 21, with the award ceremony scheduled to take place in Strasbourg on December 15.

The 50,000-euro ($58,000) Sakharov prize, which recognizes human rights activists and dissidents around the world, is awarded annually in memory of Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Last year, the prize was awarded to Belarus's democratic opposition, which staged weeks of protests against Alyaksandr Lukashenka following a disputed presidential election that the strongman claimed to have won, but which the opposition and the West said was heavily rigged in his favor.

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