Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian film director, and Oleksandr Kolchenko, Ukrainian left activist, have commented on the recent release and exchange of political prisoners between Ukraine and Russia.
"Speaking about the exchange, of course, it wasn’t spontaneous. The work on this issue has been conducted during all these years, nearly since the first days. A lot of work had been done, so one should not consider our case as a separate one. Yes, there were many of us, and we (Sentsov and Kolchenko, - 112 International) spent more time there, but it would be wrong."
"There are a lot of us, but numerous prisoners were freed during the previous administration. But then the dialogue stalled, everyone knew that. Today, when the new authorities came, Russia has obtained a chance to re-launch it. Mr. Zelensky is also taking steps forward, I see his sincere desire to solve [the situation] without losses for our country and its interests. And this is right. As I’ve already said, 100-year negotiations are better than a single day of the war."
"As for Russia's alleged wish for peace... as much as the wolf wears the sheepskin, be sure that he still has his fangs. Do not believe it. I don't believe it."
"During all these years I’ve been trying to follow the news, what was happening in Russia, Ukraine, in the world. I was forced to more closely follow Russia because I had to watch its local news, this pile of cow manure had only a few kernels of truth. There was no Ukrainian news, so usually I was reading "Novaya Gazeta", I would like to thank it, as during these five years it gave me the news about Ukraine. So, I’ve been following the situation with the exchange, there were some lull periods, as well as active phases."
"Today’s process started back in May, I think. In June, Russia could leave the Council of Europe, they had some negotiations, and Russia showed its desire to stay in this community. Moreover, the administration in Ukraine gives an opportunity to start a new dialogue. All these factors have coincided, and these two factors have influenced the situation, and that is why we are here. This does not mean that Russia is ready to leave Ukraine alone, give Crimea back, give Donbas back, saying that’s your life, so live as you want to. No, it will not happen. Never expect that."
"I already said that I myself will do everything to raise awareness about this problem, to keep up people’s interest in our prisoners and Russian prisoners."
"All of them are prisoners of the Kremlin, they are people who suffer from Putin, and they need help. Our people are certainly closer to us, but those people are also human beings and they are our people as well."
"My main feeling was that it was one of those days life is worth living for."
"What is happening in Ukraine, our conflict with Russia – let’s call it that way – is largely information-driven. The problem is not that Putin has attacked Ukraine, but that most Russians support him."
"I don’t like such events, parties, beau monde, this is not my cup of tea. I am not interested in giving interviews. I am not going to hide. I’ll participate in some interviews or programs, but I will decide it individually. I want to apologize in advance to those that I’ll have to refuse. There will be a majority of you. I hope you’ll understand and not be offended."
"Putin will not give Crimea back. As written in one newspaper I read — it’s easier for him to give back the Kremlin than Crimea. Crimea is a touchstone on which his current politics are built. Earlier, he was flying with Siberian Cranes and trying to create something to increase his ratings. Crimea helped to do it. That’s why he can’t give it back. The only option would be dramatic changes in the Russian political structure. It could be a peaceful option when some democratic leader comes to power and decides to give Crimea back, but at this time they [Russians] wouldn’t stand for it. The second option is a violent revolution. I don’t want any person to die, and I’m hoping it will be peaceful. I still hope that we will regain Crimea."
"Regarding my political life. It remains an open question for me. I am more of a private than public person. However, it has so happened that life led me to this point. I feel some kind of responsibility for my people, my country. So I will do everything in my power for my country."
"It’s possible to withstand (the pressure to extract confessions) for a short time. For a long time — No. Maybe if I were lesser known in media they would have worse to me. It’s only a matter of time before a person confesses everything. This is the story of the secret police in 1937. Nothing has changed. After some time, people will confess to anything. But my story is minor compared to what was done to Mykola Karpiuk and Stanislav Klykh. They went through hell.”
"Everyone waits for letters, so write, write, write. About anything. It provides a lot of support. Many people wrote to me. I tried to answer everyone. Not all the letters reached me, and not all letters from me reached the recipients. Some were lost. Don’t look for something evil in it. It’s just irresponsibility and bureaucracy. The postal service of Russia is in the Stone Age."