A European Union deputies' intention to nominate three jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot for the Andrei Sakharov human rights award represents interference in Russia's judicial affairs, the Russian Foreign Ministry's plenipotentiary for human rights and democracy Konstantin Dolgov said on Tuesday.
"The group of European deputies' initiative cannot be assessed as anything other than a crude attempt at interference in the activities of independent arms of the Russian state and as an attempt to cast doubt on the decision of the judge, who delivered her verdict in accordance with the due process of law," Dolgov said in a statement on the Foreign Ministry's website.
He stressed that Moscow hopes the EU will respect the memory of Andrei Sakharov "and the millions of Orthodox believers whose rights and feelings were hurt as a result of the aforementioned act against people's rights."
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, who were sentenced last month to two years in prison for their "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in February, were nominated by German parliament member Werner Schulz for the "For freedom of thought" award, otherwise known as the Sakharov Prize.
Other nominees include Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, as well as imprisoned members of the opposition in Rwanda and Iran.
The European Union deputies confirmed the nomination on Tuesday afternoon. The winner will be chosen in December in Strasbourg.
The Sakharov Prize, which comes with a 50,000 euro award, is given to individuals and organizations who have made a special contribution to the protection of human rights.
Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko, who died in prison in 1986, and Nelson Mandela were the first to be awarded the prize in 1988.