Alexander Milinkevich - winner of the 2006 Sakharov Prize

Alexander Milinkevich is this year's winner of the Sakharov Prize.

The Conference of Presidents - the political groups' leaders of the European Parliament - decided to award the prize for freedom of thought to the leader of the opposition in Belarus. Milinkevich stood in presidential elections last March, the results of which were condemned by the EU and the US.

At an opposition rally protesting the results, Milinkevich was arrested and held for 15 days. In February, the Belarus opposition leader visited the European Parliament and asked MEPs for their support, but a delegation of MEPs wishing to monitor the elections were refused entry by the Belarus authorities.

Mr Milinkevich is 59 years old and studied physics and mathematics in France, Germany and the US. He was deputy mayor of his home town Hrodna in the early nineties.

The Sakharov Prize will be awarded during a formal plenary session of Parliament on 13 December. The prize comes with a certificate and a cheque for ?50,000.

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