Russian human rights group Memorial has been awarded the European Parliament’s 2009 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.Parliament president Jerzy Buzek announced that Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Sergei Kovalev and Oleg Orlov would receive the prize on behalf of Memorial, as well as all other defenders of human rights in Russia. The Sakharov Prize was created in 1988 to reward democracy and human rights campaigners. It comes with a cheque for 50,000 euros. The inaugural winner was Nelson Mandela. Memorial was founded by Andrei Sakharov, who lends his name to the prize, and seeks to promote fundamental rights in former Soviet bloc countries.