Sakharov Prize 2018 goes to Oleg Sentsov 


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Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov is this year’s winner of the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on 12 December.

Sentsov was chosen from a shortlist of three by the Parliament’s political group leaders on 25 October.

Announcing this year’s laureate, Parliament President AntonioTajani said: "Through his courage and determination, by putting his life in danger, the film maker Oleg Sentsov has become a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world.

"By awarding him the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament is expressing its solidarity with him and his cause. We ask that he be released immediately. His struggle reminds us that it is our duty to defend human rights everywhere in the world and in all circumstances."

Oleg Sentsov © Sergei Venyavsky/Getty Images 

About Oleg Sentsov

Sentsov is a Ukrainian film director, sentenced to 20 years in prison for “plotting terrorist acts” against the Russian “de facto” rule in Crimea. Amnesty International has described the court process as “an unfair trial before a military court”.

He has become a symbol for the approximately 70 Ukrainian citizens illegally arrested and given long prison sentences by the Russian occupation forces in the Crimean peninsula.

Sentsov was on hunger strike from mid-May until 6 October, when he ended it because of the threat of being force-fed.

Award ceremony

The prize, consisting of a certificate and €50,000 will be awarded during a ceremony in the Parliament in Strasbourg on 12 December.

The finalists

Sentsov was among three finalists for the 2018 Sakharov Prize. Find out more about the other finalists - the NGOs protecting human rights and saving migrant lives across the Mediterranean Sea and Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of Hirak, a mass protest movement in the Rif region in Morocco - in this article.

They will also be invited to December's award ceremony.

More on the Sakharov Prize

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded annually since 1988 to individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the prize.

Last year the prize was awarded to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela.

Find out how the Sakharov Prize laureate gets chosen in our infographic