EU rebukes Putin with human rights prize to jailed Ukrainian film-maker
Ukraine EU rebukes Putin with human rights prize to jailed Ukrainian film-maker
European parliament gives award to Oleg Sentsov, who has been described by Vladimir Putin as a terrorist
A Crimean dissident sentenced to 20 years in Russian prison has been awarded the European parliamentâs prestigious Sakharov prize in a sharp criticism of Russiaâs human rights record likely to provoke anger from the Kremlin.
Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film-maker vocally opposed to Russiaâs 2014 annexation of Crimea, was convicted on terrorism charges in 2015 and sentenced to two decades in prison.
He held a 145-day hunger strike earlier this year to oppose his imprisonment in a penal colony in Russiaâs far north and Moscowâs refusal to extradite him to his native Ukraine.
The award is the first to a recipient from the former Soviet Union in nearly a decade.
Prosecutors said Sentsov had plotted to blow up a Lenin statue and set fire to the offices of two Russian organisations in the city of Simferopol shortly after Crimea was annexed. Critics say the charges against Sentsov were invented and that he is a political prisoner.
Previous winners of the Sakharov award include Nelson Mandela, Alexander DubÄek, Aung San Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani campaigner for female education who barely survived a Taliban assassination attempt.
Supporters say they hope the award wil l increase pressure on Russia to release Sentsov, whom doctors said came close to death during his hunger strike.
âThrough 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,â the European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, said during a plenary session in Strasbourg.
âBy awarding him the Sakharov prize, the European parliament is expressing its solidarity with him and his cause,â he said.
Tajani also called for Sentsovâs release. Vladimir Putin had rebuffed a similar plea from Sentsovâs mother, calling him a terrorist and saying the request would have to come from the film director himself. Sentsov has refused.
The decision by the European parliament, which has awarded the Sakharov prize annually since 1988, comes at one of the most tense moments in Russiaâs relationship with Europe in deca des. Moscow has vocally considered leaving European human rights bodies over allegations of bias, including the Council of Europe.
The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said on Thursday that he hoped the award would hasten Sentsovâs release.Topics
- Human rights
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