Ukrainian Filmmaker Illegally Detained Faces 20 Years In Russia
1 May, 2015

Video of a Moscow court extending the detention of Ukrainian filmmaker, Oleh Sentsov, until 11 May, 2015 to allow the Russian investigators to carry out further inquiries. However, the authorities later announced that they concluded the investigation on 30 April, 2015 and he is now awaiting trial.

Sentsov is a prominent Ukrainian filmmaker whose film The Gamer (2011) earnt him critical acclaim. When Russian soldiers entered Crimea is March 2014, Sentsov, who was born in Simferopol, decided to help and support local activists and Ukrainian soldiers on the peninsula. The new Russian authorities arrested Senstov in Simferopol, Crimea on 11 May, 2014, for allegedly being a member of the ‘terrorist group‘, Right Sector, a Ukrainian far-right political party. Shortly after his arrest on 18 May,2014 Senstov was transported to the infamous Lefortovo Detention Facility in Moscow where he has remained awaiting trial for almost a year.

“I’m sure that on April 10 I’ll be handed a neatly presented case. I’ll definitely get 20 years. Because that was already decided on the very first day before my official detention. It’s constantly talked about and my lawyers get hints that I can expect a very hard and interesting life in the camp, if I even get there. But I’m not afraid. This sentence of 20 years doesn't scare me, because I know that your regime will end much sooner,” said Oleh Sentesov, a Ukrainian filmmaker during a court hearing in Russia where he is being detained for allegedly plotting acts of terrorism – the penalty for which is 20 years.

Sentsov’s detention has been widely condemned by the international community and human rights observers who have repeatedly called for his release. According to his lawyers, Sentsov has suffered abuse and torture at the hands of the Russian authorities.

In addition to Sentsov three other Ukrainians activists in Crimea were arrested charged with plotting to commit acts of terrorism and being Right Sector members: Gennady Afanasyev, Alexei Chirniy, Alexander Kolchenko.

Afanasyev has been sentenced to a reduced sentence of 7 years for cooperating with the Russian authorities in their case against Sentsov. However, it is widely believed that his testimony was extracted under torture. Chirniy also cooperated and was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Kolchenko, a Ukrainian anti-fascist activist, has also been detained at the Lefortovo Detention Facility for almost a year until although the investigation into his alleged activities was concluded on 31 March, 2015. He is now awaiting trial alongside Sentsov. Kolchenko insists he is innocent of the charges.

// Video by Grani.Ru, text by Isobel Koshiw.