Ukrainian director thanks Poles for help in release from Russian prison

“Thank you to all Poles, filmmakers, politicians, who supported me and fought for my freedom,” said Sentsov. Paweł Supernak/PAP

Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, writer and social activist from Crimea, who was a political prisoner in Russian between 2014 and 2019, gave thanks in Warsaw on Tuesday to all those who had helped secure his release.

Sentsov also appealed for action to help free other political prisoners in Russia.

"I've been in Warsaw before. I like it here very much, I feel at home," Sentsov said. "Thank you to all Poles, filmmakers, politicians, who supported me and fought for my freedom." Sentsov, in the Polish capital for the 'Ukraina!' Film Festival which runs from Thursday to Sunday, added that he intends to return to Warsaw for the festival with his own film in two years rather than after a year as the festival's director had hoped.

Asked how he felt to be free after five years in prison, he replied: "Good. Much better."

During the meeting he was reminded of the words he spoke during his trial, as a result of which he was sentenced to 25 years on false charges. He said at the time: "The commonest sin is cowardice, I am prepared for suffering and death." He said he did not know where he had found the courage or why he was such a person.

Sentsov held a hunger strike for more than 180 days.