My little struggle. 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

Freed Ukrainian political prisoner Oleg Sentsov opening the YES 2019 conference by holding up the jar onto which he had pasted the yellow-blue stripes of the Ukrainian flag in the first month of his captivity in Russian prison.

I am very grateful to the organizers for inviting me to this forum – I was told that 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’m going to talk about a jar, a simple plastic jar, and what should be in it. I will now explain to everyone what I had in mind. Where I was, in prison, for five years, every little thing, everything has big meaning. They don’t throw anything out there, they use everything, and an 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 handed them to me in my gear, it turned out. This was still back at the very beginning, 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 “Glory” and the word “[to] Ukraine.” And I put it in the most visible place. All five years while I was traveling the prisons of the Russian Federation, she [the jar with the Ukrainian flag colours on it] was with me and I always put her in the most prominent place.

She was very annoying to the jailers. They constantly teased me, tore off the flag, tried to stomp on it – there were many such small hassles over this jar. It was my small struggle. Of course, this was not Ilovaisk or Debaltseve. I was not in Donbas, I was not in the war – I was arrested two days before I was supposed to go there. Well, that’s how it happened – everyone has their own destiny and we do not choose it. And I waged my own little battle. Known to no one, visible to no one – one on one with this system. For myself, 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 is mine [holds up his badge – Ed.]. The red band means “inclined to escape,” “special prisoner,” “special control,” well, and all other instances. 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 reports of the dead. This is a sad rule, a sad tradition. I would like to start another: I would very much like for this jar to be filled, as soon as possible, with the badges of those still in captivity in Russia, the Donbas and Crimea.

Mr. President: make sure that this jar is full, as soon as possible.


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This entry was posted in "Voices" in English, Crimea, English News, Eyewitness stories, Pictures, Voices of Revolution, Voices of Ukraine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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