Accessibility links

Breaking News

Walesa Nominates Sentsov For Nobel Peace Prize

Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov in court in August 2015
Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov in court in August 2015

Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and Nobel laureate, said he has nominated Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who is imprisoned in Russia, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Walesa told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that he sees similarities between Sentsov’s situation and his own in the 1980s, when he was imprisoned by Polish authorities for his work as the leader of the Solidarity trade union.

“I was also in a difficult situation,” Walesa said in an interview published on August 29. “I also struggled. This award (Nobel Peace Prize) helped me, as well as Poland, in regaining freedom.

Lech Walesa
Lech Walesa

“For this reason, support is needed. First of all, thanking him for fighting. Secondly, encouraging him to continue his peaceful struggle.”

A filmmaker who was a vocal opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Sentsov was arrested in Crimea that year and convicted the following year by a Russian court of planning to commit terrorist acts. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His plight has drawn international support and calls from Western governments for him to be released.

He has been on hunger strike in a remote Russian prison since May 14.

Walesa, who was awarded the Peace Prize in 1983, said he would tell Sentsov that “you are on the right side.”

“It is good that there are people like you. It gives us hope that the world will improve -- so persevere, no matter what wrongs meet you, persevere, because you give the world an example of the right way to fight,” Walesa said.

Walesa also said the West was not doing enough to help defend Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russia.

“Europe and the world are lacking in solidarity. We did not have plans for these times. This disunity, this discord in Europe and in the world, all this causes us to not address issues such as Ukraine,” he said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee each year receives several hundred nominations for the Peace Prize. Generally, the names of nominees are not released to the public for 50 years after their submission.

  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

    RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service has seen its audience grow significantly since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022 and is among the most cited media outlets in the country. Its bold, in-depth reporting from the front lines has won many accolades and awards. Its comprehensive coverage also includes award-winning reporting by the Donbas.Realities and Crimea.Realities projects and the Schemes investigative unit.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.