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Letter from Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov smuggled out of prison


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Oleg Sentsov’s letter in full:

For three years I’ve been sitting in a Russian prison. For those three years a war has been conducted against my country. The enemy is fighting like a coward, vilely, pretending he has nothing to do with it. No one believes him now but that doesn’t stop him.

War is never pretty but truth is on our side. We attacked no one and are just defending ourselves. However, there are other enemies besides the known, outside ones. They are smaller and on the inside, here, under our skin, almost native. But they aren’t supporting us. They are supporting themselves.

Some of them are leftovers from old times, times of poverty and fear. Some desire just to live in the old ways but in a new guise: newly rich and empowered. But it’s not going to work out. Each enemy, the larger and the smaller one, has different goals but we are on paths different from the ones they’re taking. I’m not going to state: “we’ll see who wins”. I know who will win. The desire for freedom and progress is unstoppable.

There are many of us in captivity in Russia and even more in Donbass. Some have been freed. Others wait and hope. Everyone has their story and their experiences of conditions of detention. Some do PR on behalf of the captives. Some really get down to work. Becoming a better-known prisoner – to get exchanged for Russian captives in Ukraine – faster than others isn’t, however, the way I’d choose.

I don’t want to pull a blanket over me. I want to remain just a surname on the list. I doubt I’ll be given an offer to leave prison last – but that would’ve been a good choice all the same. Here, in captivity, we are limited: and not even by freedom – this can no longer be taken – but by being of little help to our country while we’re in here. To be more precise, we can do one thing: hold on.

There is no need to pull us out of here at all costs. This wouldn’t bring victory any closer. Yet using us as a weapon against the enemy will. You must know: we are not your weak point. If we’re supposed to become the nails in the coffin of a tyrant, I’d like to become one of those nails. Just know that this particular one will not bend.