Ukrainian filmmaker jailed for conspiring to commit terrorism wins EU human rights prize

Ukrainian filmmaker jailed for terrorism wins EU human rights prize

A doctor examines imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov in the hospital in Russia. Image: Russian Federal Penitentiary Service via AP

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The European Union has awarded its human rights prize to a Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned in Russia for terrorism charges.

Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism, which he denies.

He has been a vocal opponent of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Earlier this month, he ended a 144 day hunger strike against the imprisonment of Ukrainians in Russia.

The strike only ended after facing the prospect of being force-fed.


Award for 'his courage' 

Oleg Sentsov gestures as the verdict is delivered, as he stands behind bars in Russian court. Image: AP

The Sakharov Prize will be presented during a ceremony in Strasbourg in December.

Announcing the prize winner, European Parliament Presiden Antonio Tajani said that Mr Sentsov would be awarded the prize for “his courage”.

Mr Tajani added: “We call upon the authorities to release him immediately," Mr Tajani said, adding that this was urgent due to Mr Sentsov's poor health since the hunger strike.

This follows after Poland bestowed its eighth annual 'For Human Dignity' award on Mr Sentsov on Tuesday, saying that his activity "deserves the highest respect".

The EU award, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, was created in 1988 to honour individuals or groups who defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.

A group of non-governmental organisations saving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and Moroccan political activist Nasser Zefzafi were shortlisted with Mr Sentsov as finalists.