Navalny dedicates award to all political prisoners in Russia, Belarus

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has dedicated a prestigious rights award to all political prisoners in Russia and in Belarus, his daughter told a summit of rights defenders on Tuesday.

“My dad asked me today to give this award to every single political prisoner in Russia and Belarus,” Daria Navalnaya said in a video statement to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, citing a letter from her father.

“He wrote that most of them are in a much worse situation compared to me, because they’re not as well known or famous,” the 20-year-old said in her first public comments since her father’s jailing in February.

“They should know that they are not alone or forgotten about.”

Navalnaya was participating in the annual summit sponsored by over two dozen non-governmental organisations to accept the “Courage Award” on behalf of her father.

Navalny is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken domestic critic.

Navalny was given the prize for his “extraordinary courage and heroic efforts to sound the alarm about the Putin regime’s grave violations of the human rights of the Russian people,” explained Hillel Neuer, head of the UN Watch NGO, one of the summit’s co-organisers.

Navalny, who survived a near-fatal poisoning with a Soviet-designed nerve agent last year, was imprisoned for two-and-a-half-years on old embezzlement charges in February.

He accuses the Kremlin of being behind the assassination attempt, which Russian officials have repeatedly denied.

The anti-corruption campaigner declared a hunger strike in March to demand proper medical treatment behind bars for a growing list of health complaints, including numbness in his limbs. 

In an increasingly weak state from the hunger strike, Navalny was transferred to a prison hospital on April 20 amid warnings from the West of serious consequences if he died. 

The 45-year-old politician called off the strike three days later.

On Monday, his team said he had been transferred back to his penal colony in Pokrov, 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Moscow.

Navalnaya voiced sadness that she, not her father, was there to accept his prize on Tuesday.

“You really should be looking at my father instead,” she said.

“But he’s in a Russian prison right now, simply because of what he says, does and believes in, and because he didn’t die when the Russian government wanted him to.”

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