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The Arresting and Case of Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko

25.03 17:20

Sentsov’s lawyer said that he was tortured in the Crimean prison.

Moreover, under the “case” three more people were arrested – activists Alexander Kolchenko, Oleksiy Chyrniya and Gennadiy Afanasyev. Russian investigation calls them “members of subversive and terrorist group Praviy Sector”.

On December 2014, Sentsov was deprived of the citizenship of Ukraine by Russia – the prosecutor’s office of the Russian Federation said that the director was a citizen of Russia, because after the annexation of the peninsula he expressed a desire to retain another nationality. Sentsov has stated that he was a citizen of Ukraine.

On April 8, 2015 at the meeting of the Lefortovo court of Moscow Sentsov said that for 11 months he was kept in custody, and the investigation could not provide any evidence of his involvement in organizing the attacks, in which he was accused.

The Ukrainian consul has been never allowed to visit Sentsov. “Brutal violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Consular Convention between Ukraine and Russia, the Russian competent authorities within 13 months had not granted permission to meet Ukrainian consul of Sentsov despite 15 formal complaints from Ukrainian side,” – said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

On June 11, 2015 Attorney General’s Office of Russia sent Sentsov case to court.

In early July 2015, Sentsov was transported in a detention center in Rostov-on-Don. On July 9, North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don extended the detention of Ukrainian director until mid-December 2015.

On July 21, in the North Caucasus district military court in Rostov-on-Don began consideration on the merits of Sentsov and Kolchenko case. The defendants have not pleaded guilty and Sentsov also said that he was tortured in a Russian prison.

One of the key prosecution witnesses, Gennadsy Afanasiev, said that he renounced his earlier testimony, as it was given under pressure. He said he did not know Sentsov and Kolchenko and didn’t confirm their involvement in the preparation of terrorist acts.

The second prosecution witness, Oleksiy Cherniy, refused to testify in court.

Gennadiy Cherniy and Oleksiy Afanasyev were sentenced in the same case as Sentson and Kolchenko. They agreed to testify against other detainees and their sentence was commuted – they were sentenced to seven years in prison each one.

On August 25, the North Caucasus Military Court in Rostov has sentenced in the case of Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko.

According to the court for multiple charges Sentsov received 20 years of penal colony and Kolchenko got 10 years. After the announcing of the sentence Sentsov and Kolchenko sang the anthem of Ukraine.

The world supports Crimean campaign of solidarity with the prisoners. In Berlin Ukrainian filmmakers organized Days of Ukrainian Cinema in support to Sentsov from June 30 till July 2. In addition, on July 3 in the German capital was held a picket in support of Alexander Kolchenko, and on June 30 a similar event was held at the Russian Embassy in Paris.

In early September 2015 Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who at the Venice Film Festival received a prize named by Robert Bresson, dedicated the award to his Ukrainian counterpart Oleg Sentsov.

Advocates emphasize that the director became a political prisoner, the charges against him were fabricated. In fact Sentsov was arrested because of his position as an active participant in Euromaidan.

The Russian embassy in Kiev was picketed by Ukrainians with the demand to release Sentsov and Kolchenko.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry statement also called for the immediate release of Ukrainians who were illegally held in Russia.

Minister for Europe British Foreign Office David Lidington named the verdict as politically motivated.

Amnesty International and the United States resented Sentsov and Kolchenko sentence and compared the process with the Stalinist era.

US Ambassador in Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt strongly condemned the judicial farce of Sentsov and Kolchenko sentence.

On August 26, PACE President Anne Brasseur said that the sentence contradicts to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The US also condemned the verdict and called it a mistake. In particular, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that Ukrainians were captured in Ukraine and moved to Russia. Russia gave them citizenship against their will. According to him, Sentsov and Kolchenko were targeted by the Russian authorities because of their opposition on the annexation of the Crimea.

On September 9, Foreign Ministers of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in a joint statement called on Russia to release Sentsov, Kolchenko and Savchenko.

On September 3, the foreign ministers of Nordic and Baltic states, who met in Copenhagen, urged Russia to release the illegally kidnapped and imprisoned citizens of Estonia and Ukraine.

On September 29, Valeria Lutkovska, Parliament Commissioner of Ukraine for Human Rights, stated that sentence in Sentsov and Kolchenko case indicates discrimination by nationality. “It can be seen if compared to the cases of Russian citizens and activists of the “Revvoyensovyet” and “Autonomous militant terrorist organization”, who were sentenced to much smaller terms,” – said Ukrainian ombudsman.

On Nevember 24, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation rejected the appeals filed by Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov and activist Oleksandr Kolchenko and upheld the sentence for them.

On December 15, after the request made on August 25, Ukrainian Consul was given an access to Sentsov and Kolchenko, illegally held in the Russian Federation.

On February 23, lawyer Dmytro Dinze stated that neither lawyers nor families of illegally arrested Oleg Sentsov and Olexandr Kolchenko know where the prisoners have been sent to. According to him, Sentsov could have been sent either to Irkutsk region or to Yakutia, while Kolchenko – to Chelyabinsk region. At the same time, the defence was unaware where exactly the prisoners will be sent. The Russian Federation keeps this information absolutely secret.

On February 24, Kolchenko convoyed to Cheliabinsk remand prison. Kolchenko’s lawyer Svitlana Sydorkina said that, Oleh was sent to Yakutia to the place of punishment, Sasha was sent to the Cheliabinsk region. Lawyer dsd not know what Cheliabinsk colony would Kolchenko be sent to as well.

On March 11, Ukraine calls on the Ministry of Justice of Russia to return Sentsov and three more illegally detained Ukrainian citizens. The appeal should be considered within 30 days.

On March 23, Ella Pamfilova, the Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, acknowledged Sentsov And Kolchenko to be Ukrainian citizens. Previously, neither the crime investigators, nor courts, nor prosecutors recognized Kolchenko and Sentsov as the citizens of Ukraine. According to lawyer Svitlana Sydorkina, Pamfilova’s report is the only document explaining Russia’s official positions on this issue.

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