Free Film-Maker Oleg Sentsov and anti-Fascist Oleksandr Kolchenko gaoled after unfair trial in Russia military court.
Free Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko!
A court in Russia has jailed Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov for 20 years for plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.
Sentsov, 39, was arrested in May 2014 during a protest against Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula two months earlier.
He pleaded not guilty and his family say he will appeal. The trial has been condemned by the US, EU and other film directors.
Russia denies accusations that he is a political prisoner.
Another Crimea activist, Alexander Kolchenko, who was being tried with Sentsov and also denies the charges against him, was sentenced to 10 years.
After the verdict was read out, both defendants sang the Ukrainian national anthem in the military court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the case breached international law, while the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, said the process had been a “farce”.
Allegations of torture
Sentsov, best known for his 2011 film Gamer, was accused of setting up a terrorist group. Prosecutors say he was involved in two attempted arson attacks in the city of Simferopol, ordered by extremist Ukrainian group Right Sector.
The Ukrainian government says he is being punished for being a Crimea-based pro-Ukrainian activist.
Russia: Ukrainian film-maker’s 20-year jail sentence compared to ‘Stalinist-era show trials’.
Long prison sentences handed down to two Ukrainian activists by a Russian military court today are a blatant injustice and are comparable to “Stalinist-era show trials” of dissidents, Amnesty International has said.
The sentences came after a patently unfair trial marred by credible allegations of torture.
The court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced film director Oleg Sentsov to 20 years and ecologist and anti-fascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko to ten years on “terrorism” charges, charges which they both deny and claim were politically-motivated. The two were accused of arson attacks on pro-Russian groups following Russia’s occupation of Crimea last year.
International humanitarian law requires that Russia, as the occupying power in Crimea, prosecute any defendants in civilian courts under Ukrainian law.
Amnesty attended the trial, including today’s sentencing hearing in Rostov-on-Don.
Amnesty International’s Eurasia Researcher Heather McGill said:
“This whole trial was designed to send a message. It played into Russia’s propaganda war against Ukraine and was redolent of Stalinist-era show trials of dissidents.
“This trial was fatally flawed and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment have been ignored by the court. Both Oleg Sentsov and one of the main witnesses for the prosecution have alleged that they were tortured.
“Any testimony gained through torture and other ill-treatment must be thrown out, the ‘terrorism’ charges must be withdrawn, and Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko should either be released or face a fair trial in a civilian court.”
There has been extensive and detailed political coverage in the French language media (the story was headlined on the radio this morning) see:
Russie : Oleg Sentsov, réalisateur ukrainien condamné pour «terrorisme» Le cinéaste et un jeune anarchiste, présents sur les barricades de Maidan à Kiev et contre l’annexion de la Crimée, ont été naturalisés de fait avant d’écoper de 20 ans de prison. Libération.