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My little fight. Oleg Sentsov’s full speech at the YES-2019 conference

My little fight.  Oleg Sentsov's full speech at the YES-2019 conference

By Staff
09.13.2019 [September 13, 2019]
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

The freed Ukrainian political prisoner Oleg Sentsov opened the YES 2019 conference by lifting the jar on which he had pasted the yellow-blue stripes of the Ukrainian flag in his first month of imprisonment in the Russian prison.

I am very grateful to the organizers for inviting me to this forum – I was told I could talk about anything. In principle, I always say what I think, I try to talk about the main thing. And today I will talk about the main thing. Today I will talk about a jar, a simple plastic jar and what should be in it. Now I will explain to everyone what I had in mind. Where I’ve been in prison for five years, every little thing, everything has great significance. They don’t throw anything out there, they use everything and one important thing is tea. In a bag, in a box and you can keep it in a jar – I kept it in a jar.

This was a difficult jar. I had two notebooks: yellow and blue. I didn’t order them, they just delivered them to me in my gear, it turned out. It was still early, in the first month. I took and cut two strips from these notebooks – blue and yellow – and glued them to this jar and wrote two words: the word “Gloria” and the word “[to] Ukraine. “And I put it in the most visible place. All five years while I was traveling in the prisons of the Russian Federation, she [the jar with the Ukrainian flag colours on it] she was with me and I always put her first.

It was very annoying to the jailers. They constantly teased me, tore up the flag, tried to trample it – there were a lot of small problems with this jar. It was my little fight. Obviously this wasn’t Ilovaisk or Debaltseve. I was not in the Donbas, I was not in the war: I was arrested two days before I had to go there. Well, that’s how it happened: everyone has their own destiny and we don’t choose it. And I started my little fight. Known to no one, visible to no one – one on one with this system. For me, for my dignity, for my country and for two stripes: yellow and blue.

Here is that jar [Sentsov holds up the jar – Ed.]. In prisons, Russian prisoners also have so-called badges. Here’s mine [holds up his badge – Ed.]. The red band means “prone to escape”, “special prisoner”, “special control”, well, and all the other cases. I took it with me, to remember.

In some armies of the world, there is such a tradition – not even a tradition, but as a rule – that when a soldier dies, his commander tears off a token to collect the reports on the dead. This is a sad rule, a sad tradition. I would like to start another one: I would very much like this jar to be filled, as soon as possible, with the badges of those who are still in captivity in Russia, the Donbass and the Crimea.

Mr. President: Make sure this jar is full as soon as possible.


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