25 Human Rights NGOs Announce Jailed Russian Dissident as 2021 Courage Award Winner

GENEVA, April 19, 2021 – A cross-regional coalition of 25 human rights organizations announced today that its prestigious international human rights award will go this year to Alexey Navalny, a political prisoner in Russia whose current condition is so severe that U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan yesterday warned Moscow that “there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies.”

Leonid Volkov, the dissident’s chief strategist, welcomed the news. “It is very important and valuable that Alexey Navalny’s moral courage is recognized internationally exactly at that point of time, when he goes through the most challenging test of his life,” said Volkov.

“He’s been put in prison unlawfully, only for the fact that he dared to survive a poison attack that nearly took his life. And for the fact that he was brave enough to return to Russia to continue his fight for a better life in a better Russia. We consider this award as a very important sign of support from the international human rights community towards Alexey’s cause.”

The jailed Kremlin critic risks cardiac arrest at “any minute” as his health has rapidly deteriorated, doctors warned Saturday.

On March 31st, Putin’s most prominent opponent went on hunger strike to demand proper medical treatment for back pain and numbness in his hands and legs.

Navalny was imprisoned in February on trumped-up embezzlement charges, and is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony 100km east of Moscow.

His 20-year-old daughter, Daria Navalnaya, will receive the 2021 Geneva Summit Courage Award on his behalf, on June 8, 2021, before an online audience of UN diplomats, human rights activists and journalists from around the world gathered for the 13th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.

Navalny barely survived a poisoning with the novichok nerve agent in August, which he has blamed on the Kremlin. After being saved in a German hospital, the Russian dissident returned to his home country, and was promptly arrested.

Navalny was chosen for the award on account of 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,” said Hillel Neuer, the executive director of United Nations Watch, a co-organizer of the conference together with more than 20 other human rights groups from five continents.

Previous laureates of the Courage Award include jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Venezuelan opposition leader Antonio Ledezma and Vladimir Kara-Murza, another leading dissident against Russia’s Putin regime.

Other courageous champions of human rights from around the world at this year’s Geneva Summit will include dissidents, activists, victims, and former political prisoners from China, Cuba, Iran, Turkey, Belarus and Zimbabwe, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries.

The conference will be held in advance of the UN Human Rights Council’s annual June session.

The Geneva Summit will showcase the voices of the world’s true human rights defenders. “It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Neuer.

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of dissidents and journalists, arbitrary detention, internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at www.genevasummit.org.

Admission to this year’s summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program, and schedule information, visit www.genevasummit.org. The conference will also be available via live webcast.

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Pat at media@genevasummit.org



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