Oleh Sentsov. Photo: Ukrinform
Here are some highlights from Sentsov’s speech.
“I remember very well how it was back then (Euromaidan 2014-Ed). I remember that winter, when we communicated with one other politely, correctly, openly and honestly. I remember the light and warmth that radiated among us… All this helped me during those five long years. I knew why I was taking such risks; I knew why I was in prison; I knew what I was doing. It helped me a lot.
When I returned to Ukraine and saw what was happening in our society, I realized, to my great regret, that we had lost everything. No matter how bitter my words may sound, the Revolution of Dignity has turned into a counter-revolution of hatred,.
We have become very aggressive towards one other. We are very fragmented, broken up. We are intolerant of other people’s opinions, even of our neighbours and loved ones, who have the same goals as we do.
We do not converge in our understanding of the future of Ukraine – and this misunderstanding is the enemy within. But, it’s wrong. It shouldn’t be this way. Even a small country, the one inside us, should be able to defeat the external aggressor that we carry within. A fragmented and warring country will never be able to defeat anyone.
… We are all different – and therein lies our strength.
… We will never become a monolithic people, like the Arabs. No leader will be able to build an authoritarian state here, because we are all different. That’s a good thing. But, we must respect each other. We must listen to people who have different opinions, who see a different future for Ukraine, but who are the same as us, Ukrainians. Without respect there is nothing!
… As for me personally, I can identify people after asking them one simple question: “Who does Crimea belong to?” Any person that answers: “Crimea is Ukraine” belongs here; he is part of this country…”
“I was fully aware of these issues when I was there (in prison-Ed). It is only when I returned, and having been in Ukraine for a month and a half, among my fellow Ukrainians, finally at home, that I realized there was a third problem – simply us!” said Sentsov.