MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - Jailed former head of oil giant Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been nominated by European lawmakers for a prize celebrating freedom of thought, Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) reported.
European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, honors people or organizations for their work in the defense of human rights and freedom of expression.
Khodorkovsky’s nomination has been put forward by German Green MEP Werner Schulz and 40 other lawmakers, Radio Free Europe said Friday.
Khodorkovsky, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to eight years in prison on fraud and tax evasion charges two years later.
In 2010, a Moscow court found him guilty on related fraud and embezzlement charges, which were denounced by prominent legal experts and lawyers as far more controversial than the charges brought in the first case.
The European Court of Human Rights rejected in July suggestions that the case against Khodorkovsky had been politically motivated but found that the initial trial was unfair and the 2005 sentencing was unjustified.
Khodorkovsky, 50, is due for release in August 2014.
Other prominent nominees for this year’s Sakharov Prize include Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and fugitive US leaker Edward Snowden.
An official presentation of all the Sakharov Prize candidates will take place September 16.
Three nominees will be short-listed on September 30. The conference of presidents, which consists of the leaders of the seven party groups in the parliament, will decide the final winner on October 10, Radio Free Europe said.
Laureates of the Sakharov Prize – whose past recipients include anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president Nelson Mandela, Chinese dissident Hu Jia, and Reporters Without Borders, a France-based NGO that advocates freedom of the press – receive 50,000 euros ($65,000).