Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, illegally convicted in Russia, became the winner of the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament "For Freedom of Thought", Radio Freedom correspondent in Brussels (Belgium) informed on Twitter.

Thus, Oleg Sentsov became the first Ukrainian to win the Sakharov Prize.
The award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg (France) on December 12th.

Apart from Oleg Sentsov, the shortlist included Mediterranean non-governmental organizations and Moroccan activist Zefzafi.

President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko on his Facebook page thanked the European Parliament for awarding Sentsov with Sakharov Prize.

“A very timely and encouraging signal of support in the extremely dramatic moment of life of the Ukrainian patriot. This is a recognition and high celebration of Oleg's boldness and endurance, a model of struggle for justice, dignity, European values and human rights for the whole world.”

The head of state added that Ukraine is fighting for his release.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin noted that Oleg Sentsov for Russia will be like Sakharov for the USSR.

Sentsov’s cousin Natalia Kaplan said that this prize will help the political prisoner to hold on and "know that he is not forgotten."

“And yes, it will help the case, at least, to stay in sight of the politicians, because we understand that only they can pull Oleg out,” Kaplan says, as cited by journalist Anton Naumluuk on Facebook.

The European Parliament awards the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought annually. It is given to individuals and organizations that protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Last year, the winners of the award were the Democratic Opposition and the political prisoners of Venezuela.

On September 27, Oleg Sentsov was included in the list of candidates for the Sakharov Prize. He was nominated by the largest political faction of the European Parliament - the European People's Party.

In total in 2018 in the European Parliament proposed to nominate 8 people and non-governmental organizations that defend the principles of democracy for the prize.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland will present Oleg Sentsov with a Pro Dignitate Humana Award.

On August 25, 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court of Russia sentenced Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov to 20 years' imprisonment in a colony of strict regime. He was accused of allegedly plotting a terrorist attack.