A discussion on fighting for human rights in Crimea featuring activist, filmmaker, and former political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, moderated by Ambassador John Tefft, Former United States Ambassador to Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia
Light reception to follow; cosponsored by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, PEN America, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, and Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies
A brief video documenting Oleg Sentsov’s case can be watched here.
Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian film director who was vocal in his opposition to the Russian takeover of his native Crimea, was detained in May 2014 and sentenced to 20 years in a Russian prison on August 25, 2015. A request from Kyiv for Sentsov’s extradition to Ukraine was denied in October 2016 on grounds he had become a Russian citizen upon the annexation.
Oleg Sentsov is the winner of PEN America’s 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, given each year to a writer who is imprisoned for their work.
On May 14, 2018, Sentsov started a hunger strike, stating that “the one and only condition for its termination is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners that are currently present on the territory of the Russian Federation.” On October 6, after 145 days, Sentsov was obliged to end his hunger strike, under threat of being force fed by authorities.
On September 7, 2019, Senstov was freed from a Russian penal colony after more than five years of detention and widening calls from free expression groups and governments as part of a historic prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. He was one of 35 Ukrainian citizens that returned home. He continues to fight for freedom of expression and freedom for other Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. His collection of short stories, Life Went on Anyway: Stories, is available from Deep Vellum.
More information can be found here.