Sentsov in EP: When some of you think about shaking Putin's hand in friendship, remember every person who has died in Ukraine
Ukrainian film director and public figure Oleh Sentsov was awarded the Sakharov Prize in the European Parliament. He was nominated for the prize in 2018, but could not personally receive it because he was in a Russian prison.
Sentsov was introduced in the session hall by the European Parliament President David Sassoli and sat on the right hand side of him at the parliament's podium.
Before Sentsov's speech, a short documentary about him was shown. Sentsov then took the floor, saying the prize for him was "a great honor and responsibility."
"I perceive this award not as a personal prize, but as recognition of all Ukrainian political prisoners who were in Russian prisons, like all political prisoners who are still there, like all our prisoners who are in the hands of Russia-occupation forces, along with all the activists who are fighting for our country, like all our military men, who are fighting for our independence or have already sacrificed their lives," Sentsov said.
Sentsov said, "There is a lot of talk about reconciliation with Russia."
"I don't believe Putin and urge you not to believe him, because Russia and Putin will deceive you. They don't want peace in Donbas, they don't want peace in Ukraine. They want to see Ukraine on its knees, they want to influence European and world politics by their own forces. We will not allow it. We fought and will fight for our freedom until the very end," Sentsov said.
At the same time, the film maker noted that in the European Union there is now "a lot of internal discussion about how to develop, how to reform, what to do next."
"We would have your problems. Everything is much harder for us: we have an old corruption system in the country, which has not been changed yet. A military operation is being waged against us. Every week our soldiers are killed. We have a different level of problems," Sentsov said.
At the same time, he called Ukraine the biggest Euro-optimist in the world, "because, for us, there is no other way of development. For us, it is a matter of survival as a country."
"Every time one of you thinks about shaking Putin's hand in friendship, remember each of the 13,000 people in Ukraine who have died, the hundreds of our guys who are still in prisons. Remember those who are being tortured and the Crimean Tatars who can be arrested at any moment. Remember those guys who are in trenches right now in camouflage and risk their lives for our freedom," Sentsov said.
Sentsov completed his speech with the words "Glory to Ukraine!" Some MEPs responded, "Glory to the heroes!"
At the end of his speech, Sassoli presented Sentsov with the Sakharov Prize and MEPs stood and applauded Sentsov.