Ukrainian film director and human rights activist Oleg (43) will visit the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 26 November to receive in persona the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
When Parliament’s Human rights prize was awarded last year, Sentsov was in prison in Russia serving 20 years, convicted of terrorism for setting fires to the doors of the offices of the ruling United Russia party in Crimea, and plotting to blow up a monument to Lenin. Sentsov became world famous due to 145 days hunger strike, which evoked a lot of sympathies, and reactions among public, supporting an international campaign for his release.
After serving five years he became one of thirty-five Ukrainian citizens released by Russia in exchange for Ukraine freeing an equal number of Russians.
This week the European Parliament president Antonio Tajani and the leaders of the political groups during the Conference of Presidents meeting will select this year’s winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought from among the three finalists. The prize will be awarded in a ceremony in Strasbourg on 12 December.
The biggest political group – the European Peoples Party (EPP) – has nominated Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov who was sentenced for 20 years’ imprisonment by a Russian court on charges of plotting terrorist acts against Russian authorities in Crimea, in a process deemed unfair by human rights watchdogs.
On 14 May, Sentsov went on hunger strike, lasting over 100 days, to call for the release of around 70 other Ukrainian citizens who are to his opinion illegally arrested and convicted to long prison sentences by Russian judges.