Oleg Sentsov awarded the 2018 Sakharov Prize!

Press release

Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has been awarded the 2018 Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament for his exceptional contribution in the fight for Ukrainian political prisoners detained in Russia. The Ukraine native, who survived a 145 days hunger strike in a penal colony in Siberia but whose health remains in serious danger, has been serving a 20 year sentence on fabricated terrorism charges since Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Oleg Sentsov was targeted for his activism against the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation in March 2014. The filmmaker was abducted from Crimea in May 2014 and accused of plotting terrorist attacks against the offices of pro-Kremlin United Russia Party. One year later Sentsov, who was tortured while in detention and imposed a Russian nationality, was sentenced to 20 years in prison during a "show trial" that was marred by numerous violations of international human rights law standards and based on fabricated evidence.

In May 2018, while serving his sentence in in the Labytnangi Penal Colony in Russia’s Far North, Sentsov began a hunger strike demanding the liberation of all Ukrainian political prisoners, excluding himself. After 145 days, he was forced to abandon the strike under the threat of force-feeding, but managed to galvanize worldwide support for his cause while his health continued to deteriorate.

This honour serves as an important acknowledgement by the European Parliament of the legitimacy of the cause of Oleg Sentsov, who exemplifies the struggle for human rights through his selfless actions

Dimitris Christopolous, FIDH President

It is all the more symbolic that the prize is named after one of the founders of Russia’s human rights movement Andrei Sakharov, an outspoken critic of the Soviet regime whose methods are increasingly employed by Russia’s power structures to silence the opposition

FIDH President

The annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded by the European Parliament to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause. The prize consist of a certificate and €50,000 and this year will be awarded in a ceremony in Strasbourg on 12 December 2018.

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