Oleg Sentsov criticizes Russia, praises Europe and praises Ukraine

Address by Oleg SENTSOV, Sakharov Prize Laureate 2018

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has received the most important human rights prize from the European Union in Strasbourg after his recent release from prison in Russia. The European Parliament annually awards the Sakharov Prize for "freedom of thought". Sentsov could not retrieve the prize last year because he was still imprisoned.

The critic of the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014 was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in Russia in prison for conspiracy. After his release in September in the context of a prisoner exchange between Moscow and Kiev, the Sakharov Prize was handed over to Sentsov at a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Sentsov received a standing ovation during a special ceremony in the European Parliament. He said the prize was an "honor but also great responsibility" and dedicated it to "all other political prisoners in Russia." He ended his speech with "long live Ukraine."

During a short speech, Sentsov was particularly critical of Vladimir Putin's Russia and praising the European Union. “I don't trust Putin. And you cannot trust him either, "he addressed the MEPs. "Russia and Putin do not want peace in Ukraine at all, they will deceive you!"

"The European Union certainly has its problems, but as we say in Russian, we wish we had your problems. Ours are much more complex. The constant corruption is still there, the Russian military aggression ... The EU is a great institution and a good example for all of us. ”Ukraine, according to Sentsov, is the most pro-European country in the world.

This year's Sakharov Prize has been awarded to Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, who is in prison in China. The ceremony for Tohti in Strasbourg takes place on December 18.