Freed Ukrainian Filmmaker Receives Human Rights Award


A Ukrainian filmmaker who became a symbol of defiance against President Vladimir Putin's expansionist vision of Russia has finally collected the European Union's highest human rights honour, a year after it was awarded to him. The 43-year-old accepted the prize, which celebrates individuals or organisations who fight for human rights and fundamental freedoms, at a ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Oleg Sentsov's case has drawn international attention to plight of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. During the uprising that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, Sentsov helped to deliver food and supplies to Ukrainian military personnel stranded in their Crimean bases, eventually evacuating the troops to safety. He was arrested in Crimea, along with four others, on suspicion of plotting attacks on bridges, power lines and monuments in the territory. Under the Geneva Conventions, an occupying power cannot forcibly remove people from a territory, however, Russia "regularly does so", according to Amnesty International Ukraine's Maria Guryeva, who noted the continuing arrests of Crimean Tatars in the territory. After more than five years, Sentsov was eventually freed in September in a prisoner swap aimed at easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. 

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Al Jazeera