In response to news that the European Parliament has awarded the 2018 Sakharov Prize to 2017 PEN/ Barbey Freedom to Write Award honoree Oleg Sentsov, PEN America Eurasia Program Director Polina Kovaleva released the statement below:

“The European Parliament’s selection of Oleg Sentsov as the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is a powerful statement in defense of writers, artists, political prisoners, and all those who are actively fighting for free thought and free expression in a time of creeping—and not so creeping—authoritarianism around the world. The award is given to recognize “individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights around the globe;” through his 145-day hunger strike that ended on October 6, Sentsov brought the plight of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia into the world’s eye, exposed the petty cruelties of the Russian regime, and became a global symbol of resistance in the face of oppression. Oleg Sentsov is deeply deserving of this recognition, and PEN America joins a global chorus in offering him our heartfelt congratulations.”  


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: [email protected]