PEN International: Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Tom Stoppard to Oleg Sentsov

Dear Oleg,

I’ve been in New York rehearsing a play in which a businessman banishes a journalist from his good graces with the words “You wrote yourself into Siberia!”. What an easy metaphor for an English writer! I came home a couple of days ago and caught up with the film about your trial. I am almost too embarrassed to write to you from my position of privilege. But I must write to you. Watching you on the screen I felt I was watching a man who had risen high above the moral level of the system which put him on trial. I won’t forget the way you addressed the court, not just for the words you spoke but for the calm courtesy with which you faced the machinery of a cynical and vindictive system. This was not a new experience for me, I remember it from thirty, forty, fifty years ago. It is an honour for me to write to you, to offer my great respect.

Tom Stoppard