January 22, 2020. OTTAWA, ON. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is pleased to announce that Ukrainian filmmaker, human rights activist and former political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, who was illegally imprisoned by Russia for five years, will visit Canada February 2 – 5, 2020.
“Mr. Sentsov is an inspiration to us all – a symbol of courage in the face of cruelty, of brave resistance to tyranny, and of the Ukrainian peoples’ struggle against Russian imperialism,” stated Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the UCC. “Today, he fights for the freedom of all Ukrainian political prisoners who are captives of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The UCC is proud to be one of the sponsors of his visit to Canada.”
In partnership with PEN Canada and the Postcards for Prisoners Project, the UCC will host the Human Rights Watch Film Festival screening of The Trial: The State of Russia vs. Oleg Sentsov, on Monday, February 3, 2020 at 7 p.m. at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St W, Toronto (east of Bathurst St.). After the screening, Mr. Sentsov will participate in a Q and A session with the audience.
For more information on how to obtain Free Advance Tickets for the screening – please see here
Following Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea in 2014, Mr. Sentsov – a filmmaker, Maidan activist and brave supporter of Ukrainian sovereignty – was arrested by the Russian occupation “authorities,” illegally transported to Russia, and following a kangaroo trial, was sentenced to 20 years in Russian prison on trumped up terrorism charges.
During his trial, Sentsov displayed immense courage and bravery. As the Russian “court” announced their “verdict,” Sentsov and his co-defendant Oleksandr Kolchenko, sang the Ukrainian national anthem. Years later, he wrote from captivity in a Siberian prison camp: “If we are supposed to become nails in the coffin of a tyrant, I’d like to be one of those nails. Just know that this particular one won’t bend.”
And he did not bend. In 2018, he declared a hunger strike in support of all Ukrainian political prisoners jailed by Russia that ended only under threat of force-feeding by his Russian jailers. After more than five years in prison, Sentsov was freed from Russian captivity in a prisoner exchange in September 2019 and returned to Kyiv.
On February 2, the League of Ukrainian Canadians will host Mr. Sentsov at the Old Mill in Toronto. More information on this event is available here
Following Mr. Sentsov’s visit to Toronto, the UCC National Office will host Mr. Sentsov in Ottawa in cooperation with the Embassy of Ukraine to Canada. More details on public events in Ottawa will be shared shortly.