BRUSSELS (AP) — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s main critic, has been awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize.

In open criticism of the Kremlin, the leaders of the European Parliament picked the Russian politician for the Sakharov Prize Wednesday. Other candidates had been a group of Afghan women and imprisoned Bolivian politician and former interim President Jeanine Anez.

The parliament's EPP Christian Democrat group announced the decision in a tweet.

“Mr. Putin, free Alexei Navalny. Europe calls for his — and all other political prisoners’ — freedom,” it said.