Sentsov awarded a Freedom to Write Award
PEN America announced today that it will honor imprisoned Ukrainian writer and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, an activist imprisoned on spurious charges in Russia, with the 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.
Sentsov, an outspoken critic of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and takeover of Crimea, is serving a 20-year sentence in a Siberian penal colony after his arrest on terrorism charges that have been condemned by human rights groups as fabrications by a Russian government intent on silencing dissent.
“The abduction, abuse, and baseless conviction of Oleg Sentsov are emblematic of President Vladimir Putin’s brazen willingness to flout laws and norms, his imperviousness to the optics of targeting an internationally known filmmaker and writer, and his refusal to countenance dissent,” said PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “We as writers, artists, and intellectuals must be outspoken in naming Sentsov as a writer of conscience unjustly jailed for nothing other than the expression of his views.”
Since 1987, PEN America has honored more than 50 individual writers worldwide with the Freedom to Write Award, recognizing their struggle in the face of adversity for the right to free expression. Of the 41 writers who were in prison at the time they received the award, 37 have been freed due in part to the attention and pressure the award generates.