Oct 25, 2018

Crimea: Oleh Sentsov Wins Sakharov Price

Oleh Sentsov, a Crimean Tatar activist and filmmaker, won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Sentsov is currently imprisoned in Russia since he opposed the unlawful annexation of Crimea by the Russian authorities. He is currently set to serve 20 years of prison sentence based on charges of “terrorism”. UNPO strongly welcomes the European Parliament’s decision to award the 2018 Sakharov Prize  to Sentsov.

The article below was published by Radio Liberty:

Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director imprisoned in Russia after opposing Moscow's takeover of his native Crimea, has won the prestigious 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, European Parliament sources say.

Sentsov, who said earlier this month that he was forced to end a 145-day hunger strike in a prison in northern Russia, had been selected as one of three finalists in a closed October 9 vote by members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and development committees.

The other short-listed candidates were Moroccan activist Nasser Zefzafi and 11 NGOs that work to save the lives of migrants traveling across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The award ceremony is scheduled for December 12 in Strasbourg.

Sentsov, a Crimean native who opposed Russia's 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, is serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted of terrorism in a trial that he, human rights groups, and Western governments contend was politically motivated.

He is currently imprisoned in the Far Northern Yamalo-Nenets region of Russia where he started a hunger strike on May 14, demanding that Russia release 64 Ukrainians that he considers political prisoners in Russia.

He ended his hunger strike on October 6, saying he had to do so to avoid being force-fed by the prison authorities.

The prize, named in honor of the Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established by the European Parliament in 1988 to honor individuals and organizations who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Photo courtesy of Radio Liberty