02 Jan

Solidarity with Oleg Sentsov in New York

On December 31, a rally in support of the illegally convicted and held in Russia Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov was held at the building of the Russian Federation Consulate in New York.

This was reported by Krym.Realii referring to Andriy Zagdansky, one of the protesting activivsts.

Two protesters were holding placards with excerpts from the poem Alexander Pushkin “In the Depths of the Siberian Ores.

“Our small but friendly flashmob in support of Oleg Sentsov wrongfully convicted  in Russia takes place at the consulate premises in New York. Thank you to everyone who has come,” commented Mr. Zagdansky in his post with the photos of the event.

Oleg Sentsov was detained by Russian security services in Crimea annexed by Russia in May 2014 on charges of “organizing terrorist attacks on the peninsula’.

In August 2015 the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced him to 20 years in a penal colony.

Sentsov did not plead guilty. Human Rights Center “Memorial” included his name to the list of political prisoners.

03 Sep

Sentsov and Kolchenko vs. obliging perpetrators of Russia’s ideologically-motivated Terror

Solidarity events have been taking place over the last week to mark the second anniversary on August 25 of the sentences passed by a Russian ‘court’ on Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko.  The events are important to ensure that the two political prisoners, whom Russia has hidden as far away from the media and foreign diplomats as is possible, are not forgotten.  It is also an opportunity to remember the three Russian ‘judges’ – Sergei Arkadyevich MikhailyukViacheslav Alexeevich  Korsakov and Edward Vasilyevich Korobenko –  who knowingly sentenced two innocent men to 20 and 10 years, respectively.

There can be no question that they did not know.  The ‘trial’ had been followed with concern and condemnation far beyond Russia, and the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre declared both men political prisoners soon after it began.

There was literally nothing to incriminate Sentsov and the one act that Kolchenko freely admitted taking part in was something that would normally get at very most a suspended sentence for hooliganism.

It is no justification, but at least during the Soviet Terror of 1937, the prosecutors, judges, etc. who took part in the torture and execution of innocent men were aware that they would pay with their lives for insubordination.  The ‘judges’, the ‘chief investigator’ Artem Burdin, prosecutor Igor Tkachenko and others who took part in this first stage in the ‘ideological terror’ unleashed since Russia’s invasion of Crimea lack even that pitiful excuse.  Burdin, a 54-year-old Russian, is the so-called senior investigator on ‘particularly important cases’ within the FSB [Russian security service] and is believed to have given the orders for Sentsov, Kolchenko and two other opponents of annexation to be tortured. He and Tkachenko might have missed out on promotion or fat bonuses had they refused to take part in the repression, no more than that.

Four FSB officers – Alexander Kulabukhov;  Sergei Markov; Dmitry Vasilkov and Alexander Zinchenko have been identified  as directly involved in the arrest and torture of, at least, Oleg Sentsov.  All four are former officers of the Ukrainian Security Service [SBU] and are, or until recently were, Ukrainian nationals.

A model letter to parliamentary representatives asking for all those implicated in the torture, trial and imprisonment of Sentsov and Kolchenko to be added to current sanctions lists can be found here.

Russia’s first Crimean show trial is indeed only the first, and it is for this reason too that it is vital that all those complicit in the persecution of innocent men know that their actions will be recorded and bring consequences.

It is telling that the occupation regime has taken to holding all the detention hearings, appeals, etc. of the 15 Crimean Muslims it is holding in indefinite custody behind closed doors.  Judge Marina Vladimirovna Kolotsei who on August 9 sentenced Server Karametov, a frail and ill 76-year-old Crimean Tatar to 15 days’ imprisonment for his defence of political prisoners, tried desperately to ensure that nobody used cameras or videos.

She and numerous other ‘judges’ handing down repressive sentences to order have a great deal to hide.  It is important that we prevent them from doing so.

See Blacklist exposes judges involved in political persecution in Russian-occupied Crimea

Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko

Sentsov, Kolchenko and two other opponents of Russian annexation – Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chyrniy – were seized by the Russian FSB in May 2014.  They were held incommunicado for three weeks, first in Crimea, then in Moscow, before any lawyer was allowed to see them.  This is of critical importance since there was literally no evidence of any ‘terrorist plot’ with the entire case, and eventually Sentsov’s 20-year sentence and Kolchenko’s 10 years, based solely on the ‘confessions’ of the other two men.  Later in court, Afanasyev found the courage to refuse to obey the FSB’s orders and to stand up and state that all previous testimony had been untrue and extracted through torture.  Sentsov had, from the outset, described the torture that he was subjected to, but had withstood.

This FSB ‘plot’ was chillingly Stalinist in many respects, including the total disregard for plausibility. In its first statement , the FSB claimed that the men had been planning terrorist attacks in Simferopol; Yalta and Sevastopol, with the aim being, for example, to destroy non-existent railway bridges.

MikhailyukKorsakov and  Korobenko ignored the lack not merely of evidence, but of ‘terrorism’ in the charges, and passed the sentences Sentsov had been told to expect when he refused to ‘cooperate’.

Sentsov and Kolchenko responded by singing Ukraine’s national anthem.

A large number of prominent Russian writers, artists, human rights defenders and others in their turned issued a warning that “The country has again taken the road of political repression”.  They directly compared the fabricated trial to the political trials of the Soviet era, and asked:

“What is this, if not ideologically motivated state terror?  The aim is to intimidate and suppress any peaceful resistance in Crimea from those who regard themselves as citizens of Ukraine and oppose Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

 

PLEASE write to Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Oleksiy Chyrniy.  Your letters are an important message to the men and to Moscow that they are not forgotten.

If writing in Russian is a problem, there is a ‘crib’ below which you can also just add.  Photos or similar would be nice, and please avoid anything political or about their case since that will stop the letters getting through.  Maximum weight, by the way, is 100 g.  It’s also a good idea to give a return address for him to be able to reply.

‘Crib’ letter

Привет!

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение.

Мы о Вас помним.

[Hi, I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  You are not forgotten.

Addresses

Oleg Sentsov

Russia, 677004, Republic of Yakutia, Yakutsk, 25 Ochichenko St, Prison No. 1

Sentsov, Oleg Gennadiyevich, born 1976

Oleksandr Kolchenko

Russia, 456612, Chelyabinsk oblast, Kopeisk, ul. Kemerovskaya, 20, Prison No. 6,

Kolchenko, Alexander Alexandrovych, born 1989

Oleksiy Chyrniy

RF, 346519, Rostov oblast, Shakhty, 10 Otkrytaya St. Prison No. 9 in Shakhty

Chyrniy, Alexei Vladimirovich, b. 1981  [the Russified version of his first name and patronymic is more likely to get through]

 

Source: web-site of Kharkiv Human Rights Group

12 Dec

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina called for Sentsov’s release at the European Film Awards

Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov illegally convicted in Russia has received support from the stage of European Film Academy in Poland. It was voiced by Maria Alyokhina, member of Pussy Riot 

“Hi! My name is Masha. A small introduction. A few years ago, I did one small thing. (Puts on a balaclava) Well, it is pretty simple. I made like this, and for forty seconds, I screamed a song against Putin. The guy, who, I hope, we all don’t like. After that, I spent two years in prison.

Yes, the end of intoduction. Because it’s not about me. I’m here to speak about the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who’s your colleague, who has not even done this (points to balaclava). Oleg Sentsov got a sentence of 20 years of prison. He is in Siberia, in Yakutsk, it is 10 000 kilometers from here. The weather for Yakutsk today is -46 ℃. So it’s really cold.

Oleg has two children. He’s forty years old. Twenty years in a Russian prison means actually death. I am going to read a small quote from a letter which he gave us a few months ago. He speaks about himself and about other political prisoners who are in Russian prisons:

“We’re not your weak point. If we are supposed to become nails in the coffin of tyrant, I would like to become one of those nails. Just know that this particular nail will not bend.”

What I’m going to say is very simple. I believe that community is stronger than any government, because community has no borders.

And I believe, I really believe that as a community we change different things. Finally, I would like to ask you to stand up for Oleg and his freedom. Now.
Thank you!”

In early December 2016, film director Alexander Sokurov has asked President Vladimir Putin to show mercy and release Sentsov. Putin also expressed confidence that the issue should be decided by the court.

On 25 August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court of Russia sentenced Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian film director from Simferopol, to 20 years’ imprisonment in a penal colony on charges of involvement in terrorism. Russian investigators have called Crimean anarchist Alexander Kolchenko his crime associate. Kolchenko who was sentenced to 10 years in colony.
Kolchenko and Sentsov pleaded not guilty. Human rights organizations believe the
European Film Awards (12 December 2016)
02 Dec

Russian filmmaker Sokurov asked Putin to release Sentsov

Russian film director Alexander Sokurov asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, accoding to gazeta.ru

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“As a citizen of Russia and a director, I have a big favor to ask you cordially, Vladimir Vladimirovich: let us solve the issue of Oleg Sentsov,” Sokurov said.

He noted that his Ukrainian collegue was sentenced to 20 years in a strict regime colony. According to Sokurov, it is a shame that Russia has still not resolved the situation. “I beseech you to find a solution to this problem,” the film director noted.

Sokurov said that if Ukrainian film director Sentsov has a different political point of view, he should compete with him at the film festivals rather than be jailed in the Russian “virtually Arctic” prison.

“Questions of this kind should be dealt by judicial systems. He was convicted not for his creative work, but for the fact that he performed some other functions, as our investigative agencies say. An intention and the preparation of illegal actions. No one has condemned him for his political stance and views,” said Putin.

Sokurov added that “mercy is above justice.”

“We can take advantage of a particular procedure, but there should be certain conditions for it,” Putin claimed.

The Russian President concluded that “this is a sensitive issue,” and he would “have it in mind.”

17 Nov

Johnny Depp urged to release Oleg Sentsov

American human rights activists from the Voice Project launched a campaign called Imprisoned for Art. In terms of the project, famous singers and musicians are trying to draw attention to their colleagues from around the world who have been in jail for political reasons.

johnny-depp-oleg-sentsov

Johnny Depp draws worldwide attention to his colleague, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in a colony of strict regime.

nadya-nudem-durak

Participant of Pussy Riot band Nadia Tolokonnikova calls the attention of the world community to the fate of Turkish singer Nûdem Durak. In 2015, she was accused of promoting Kurdish separatism and sentenced to 10.5 years in prison.

peter-gabriel-dawit-isaak

British singer and musician Peter Gabriel urges to pay attention to the fate of writer and journalist David Isaac, who has been in jail since 2001 without a verdict. The journalist has dual Eritrean-Swedish citizenship. Voice Project says that probably discontent Eritrean authorities could be caused by the publication in a newspaper founded by Isaac Setit an open letter to the opposition, which demanded to conduct free elections in the country. There is barely no contact with the prisoners in Eritrean jails, in June 2016, Foreign Ministry confirmed that Isaac was alive.

Hromadske.ua (16 November 2016)

20 Oct

Solidarity with Sentsov and Kolchenko from Paris

Paris, October 9: Syrian, Ukrainian, Russian and French activists held a joint protest against the military aggression of the Russian Federation in Syria and Ukraine.

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Photo – Pierre Rimbaud.

The protest was scheduled for the day of Vladimir Putin’s planned arrival in Paris opening “Orthodox spiritual and cultural center.” The visit was ultimately canceled.

The protest, however, took place. There were different slogans, like “Long live the struggle of the Syrian and Ukrainian peoples! Long live freedom and democracy in Syria and Ukraine! Putin is the culprit! Say no to cooperation with dictators! International solidarity!”

Maksym Butkevych, Solidarity Committee representative, held a speech during the protest. He stressed the importance to remember the victims of repression and the prisoners, the strong need to support them, particularly mentioning Alexander Kolchenko and Oleg Sentsov. Maksym Butkevych called for solidarity with refugees and immigrants. The rally ended with general chanting «La solidarité internationale!» (“International solidarity!”)

kolchenko-banner-paris

The text of the protesters (in French, Arabic, and Ukrainian) is available on the FB page of the event.

07 Oct

Russian authorities ignore appeals of Ukrainian diplomats for visiting Sentsov

The Russian side has not taken any action in response to the numerous requests of Ukrainian diplomats for a meeting with imprisoned Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, said MFA spokeswoman Mariana Betsa

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The Russian side has not taken any action in response to the numerous requests of Ukrainian diplomats for a meeting with imprisoned Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, said MFA spokeswoman Mariana Betsa

“All of our appeals, i.e. the appeals of our Embassy in the Russian Federation and the consular office in Novosibirsk concerning a meeting with Oleg Sentsov are ignored,” noted Mariana Betsa in an exclusive comment for “Interfax-Ukraine” agency.

She also noted that during the last 4 months, Ukraine has sent numerous requests for a meeting, but Russia invariably ignored all of them.

As reported before, in August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court found O.Sentsov A.Kolchenko guilty of creating terrorist community in Crimea, committing two acts of terrorism, preparing another terroristic act, and of an attempt to purchase explosives and illegal weapons possession. O.Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison, A.Kolchenko has got 10 years. In early May 2016, O.Sentsov and A.Kolchenko filled documents for the extradition to Ukraine.

Kyiv has repeatedly highlighted the political causes in “Sentsov-Kolchenko case.”

Interfax-Ukraine (5 October 2016)
21 Sep

Human rights activist of the Solidarity Committee spoke at the UN meeting wearing a “Free Sentsov and Kolchenko!” T-shirt

Human rights activist Maksym Butkevytch, member of “Solidarity Committee” – an initiative group of support of the Crimean political prisoners (Sentsov-Kolchenko), delivered a report on the situation in Ukraine in the Geneva office of UN. He wore a shirt with a special call on the release of the Crimean political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko, who have been illegally held in Russia since 2014.

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Human rights activist Maksym Butkevytch, member of “Solidarity Committee” – an initiative group of support of the Crimean political prisoners (Sentsov-Kolchenko), delivered a report on the situation in Ukraine in the Geneva office of UN. He had a shirt on himwith a special callon the release of the Crimean political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko, who have been illegally held in Russia since 2014.

In his interview with Krym.Realii, Butkevytch noted that these T-shirts should be worn at international events, as the human rights-themed prints are a good reminder of the issue of Crimean political prisoners.

For more than a year, “Solidarity Committee” has been distributing the T-shirts dedicated to the “Crimean hostages,” calling for their release and printing the web address of the site dedicated to the issue. This is not self-promotion: these t-shirts are used to collect donations to support children and the families of the hostages, and most importantly – tore mind about Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko and the need to support them, to remind about the actions of the occupation regime,” said Maksym Butkevytch.

He added that human rights defenders have repeatedly pointed out that only an international campaign of solidarity can bring hope for the release of political prisoners.

“We see more and more people in these T-shirts, are not only in Kyiv. For example, the head of the Green faction of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms recently told me how she got this T-shirt; European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitrios Avramopoulos asked to send him such a T-shirt. This T-shirt is not just a piece of clothing, it is a statement. It is difficult to imagine a more appropriate site for wearing this t-shirt than an event at the United Nations office, visited by Russian and Ukrainian journalists,” he noted.

Earlier, on September 20, in his report Maksym Butkevytch said that the Russian annexation of the Crimea and the subsequent move of the people from Crimea to the mainland of Ukraine, attracted interest of the Ukrainians to the culture and religion of the Crimean Tatars.

19-20 September, a seminar on “Role of media in fighting against the propaganda of national, racial, and religious hatred” was held in Geneva office of the UN.

August 25, 2015 the North Caucasus District Military Court sentenced Oleg Sentsov to 20 years in a strict regime colony. Sentsov is accused of preparing terrorist attack, planning bombings at the “Eternal Flame” memorial and the monument to Lenin in Simpefopol. Russian investigators accused Alexander Kolchenko, Crimean activist, anti-fascist, of cooperation with Sentsov. Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years of the colony.

Alexander Kolchenko and Oleg Sentsov pleaded not guilty. Human rights organizations believe these unfounded accusation and politically motivated. Russian human rights center “Memorial” has recognized them as political prisoners.

Krym.Realii (20 September 2016)