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Nemtsov, Savchenko and Snowden Nominated for European Sakharov Prize

Ukrainian military pilot Nadezhda Savchenk (L), former pposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

The European Parliament has nominated Russian slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko for the 2015 Sakharov Prize.

The prize is awarded every year “to honor exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression,” the parliament said Thursday in an online statement.

Edward Snowden, the U.S. intelligence leaker who has received asylum in Russia, is also among the seven nominees for the 50,000-euro award, the parliament said.

Nemtsov — the first deputy prime minister under former President Boris Yeltsin and once his likely successor — was a vocal critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

He was shot and killed near the Kremlin on the night of Feb. 27, while working on a report exposing Russia's involvement in the ongoing conflict between separatists in eastern Ukraine and Kiev government troops.

Savchenko, the pilot, was captured last year by pro-Moscow forces in eastern Ukraine and handed over to Russia where she is on trial on charges of abetting the killing of two Russian journalists.

She has been celebrated as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance at home, and was elected to both the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and to the Ukrainian parliament while in prison.

The winner of the prize — named after Russian nuclear physicist, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov — will be announced in October.

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