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25 October, 2018

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov wins 2018 Sakharov Prize

The European Parliament's President Antonio Tajani announced the winner. The €50,000 prize was created in memory of the late exiled Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov

Sentsov, from Crimea, was sentenced 20 years in prison by a Russian court for "plotting acts of terrorism" in 2015.

The European Union stated that "Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko (convicted in the same case to 10 years in prison), and many others, were detained and sentenced in breach of international law."

Dmitriy Dinze, Oleh Sentsov's lawyer responded to the announcement this afternoon.

"I hope that the prize that Oleh has got will get the negotiation process moving regarding the Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia," he told Euronews.

Sentsov is supported by filmmakers worldwide, human rights defenders and social activists. Pedro Almodovar and Johnny Depp are among the stars who have called for Sentsov to be freed.

On 14 May this year he went on an open-ended hunger strike in the town Labytnangi, Siberia, to campaign for the release of 64 other prisoners held in Russia and annexed Crimea. He told his lawyer that the timing of his decision was planned to present the possibility that he might die during Russia's hosting of the World Cup.

Olha Mukha, a coordinator for PEN International Congress, who defend freedom of expression worldwide, said the prize will give Sentsov "another status", explaining: "it could be a very strong argument in diplomatic and political conversations to save his life."

"I am really proud to celebrate Oleh as the first ever laureate from Ukraine" she added.


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