While Receiving Sakharov Prize, Sentsov Warned European Parliament Not to Trust Putin
Senstov accepted the award on behalf of the political prisoners, activists, and soldiers fighting for Ukraine
Ukrainian director and former Kremlin prisoner Oleg Sentsov received the Sakharov Prize in the European Parliament today (Nov. 26).
In a speech to the European Parliament, Sentsov said that he perceives the award not as his personal prize, but as a sign of encouragement to all the Ukrainian political prisoners who have suffered and still suffer in Russian prisons and at the hands of separatists in Donbas, all of the activists still fighting for their country, and all the Ukrainian soldiers fighting to keep Ukraine’s independence.
Sentsov, who held a 145-day hunger strike while imprisoned in Russia, said that Russia does not want peace but wants to “see us on our knees” and wants to manipulate European world politics to serve its interests.
“We will not allow this. We fought and will fight for our freedom until the very end,” Sentsov said. “Despite all of the internal problems, the EU continues to move forward. I believe that this is a very good organization – an example for us. There is one country that is probably the biggest Euro-optimist in the world right now – it’s Ukraine. For us, there’s no other path forward. It’s a way out. For us, it’s a matter of survival as a country. So, every time one of you thinks about how to reach over our heads for Putin’s hand in friendship, remember each of the 13,000 who’ve died in Ukraine – the hundreds of our guys who are still there in prisons, who could be undergoing torture right now – consider the Crimean Tatars who could be getting arrested right now, those guys who are, right now, in the trenches – who are risking their lives for ours and your freedom. Don’t forget about them please, ” Sentsov told the audience.
On Sep. 7, Ukraine and Russia exchanged detainees in the “35-for-35” format. Eleven Ukrainian political prisoners, including Sentsov, as well as 24 seamen captured by Russia in the Kerch Strait in November of 2018 were returned home in exchange for 35 of Ukraine’s Russian detainees.
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