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)
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.

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

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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.

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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)

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)
30 Sep

Alexander Kolchenko’s Guide to Life

Crimean left-wing activist, anarchist and anti-fascist Alexander Kolchenko, nicknamed Tundra, has spent two years in Russian prisons. Russian authorities charged him, as well as film director Oleg Sentsov and several other activists, of allegedly preparing terrorist attacks in Crimea and igniting the office of the ruling party, “United Russia”. Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the article on terrorism. We have gathered his views on life, politics, and the world today stated in his letters, interviews, and speeches.

sasha

Some people blamed me for participating in Maidan. I believe that it was a significant historical event for my country. How could I miss it? I could not leave my job for a long time, so I decided to go there [to Kyiv] on the weekend. I planned to go back on Monday, so I took underpants and a sweater (it was really cold then), and some cans to feed people. Everyone helped each other on the Maidan; for example, I was cleaning the snow. I was just amazed! People helped each other, and there were no bosses. What a brilliant self-organization! What did I do there? Upon coming to the Maidan, I have felt what homeland means. All the people helped each other: from a flimsy girl to an old grandmother. It was the triumph of justice. Actually, the upper classes could not take the control, and the lower classes did not want to obey or live in an old way. The idea of ​​freedom was in the air!
***
I was against the war, against the violence. My actions were directed against the party “United Russia,” which voted in favor of sending troops [to annex Crimea]. I took it as a signal that the Russian troops would invade the territory of the whole country, and a full-scale war would begin. The referendum took place a month before the stuff we are charged with, and we just could not influence it. The March vote gave the green light to the people who then took part in the Donbas hostilities.
***
I have not been involved in any terrorist community. I was born and grew up in Simferopol, I studied at school here, then went to the High School of Service and Tourism. After that I worked at “Nova Poshta” (“New Post”) delivery service, and then in the online printing industry (until March 20, 2014). Before detention, I also studied at the Taurida National University, the Faculty of Geography.
***
I have nothing in common with [Ukraine’s far-right organization] Pravyi Sector. I am an anarchist and anti-fascist, that’s why I do not share any kind of nationalist beliefs. I think that nationalism, even in its “common” one form, carries dangers and threats to freedom, equality, and fraternity.
***
In high school, when studying history of the Civil War in Russia and Ukraine, I wondered why the school textbook pay so much attention to Bolsheviks, the White movement, and the Directory of the UNR [Ukrainian People’s Republic], and only a couple of paragraphs were dedicated to Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine [Nestor Makhno’s anarchist Black Army]. I began to read the literature about Makhnovshchina, and anarchism in general. In addition, I had to take part in street fights against neo-Nazis; I met with people from other cities who had similar views, interests, and leisure activities.
***
In this country, elections do not work. Even in those countries, where they might influence something, these changes are not fundamental. Oppression and exploitation system, police, prisons are not abolished by decrees of authorities… Well, I cannot tell you much about anarchist alternatives to prisons, but it is clear to me – especially after what I have seen here – that the prison does not contribute to “correcting” the individual, rather it does the contrary. Many people get into prisons by false accusations, and often their jailers are not innocent.
***
Expressing my skepticism about the elections, I don’t mean that it’s necessary to minimize or eliminate the political participation as such. Rather, on the contrary, we should participate in political and civic life every day, not just on the election day. In my opinion, it is very naïve to believe that by throwing the ballot in the ballot box you decide the fate of the country, especially in a country like Russia.
As one of my friends wrote recently: the revolutionary perspective is beyond the electoral system.
***
In music, I have an extensive range of preferences: punk rock, psychobilly, hardcore, hip-hop, Oi! .., etc. But now I like best the Jamaican motifs: ska, reggae, dub. I like Trojan Records collections very much.
Speaking about the films, I prefer comedies. For example, The Big Lebowski, Black Dynamite, Fantozzi contro tutti, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Four Lions, Big Nothing, Pain & Gain.
***
I have heard Banda Bassotti to come to Donbas. It is a very cool band, but, apparently, guys from “Borotba” brainwashed some European Left.
***
As for the Internet wars – I think you are paying too much attention to details and take them too personally. Even in the Internet, there are a lot of things much more interesting, not to mention the real life around. Perhaps the current economic situation and the actions of the authorities make people a little bit soberer.
***
It seems to me that you cannot turn up trumps always and everywhere – in fishing, in hockey, in fray etc – sooner or later, the luck will expire. And, probably, it is very difficult to live in the world as if you’re an island of awesome in a sea of morons.
***
I still adhere to the anarchist communist views. However, I am also interested in theoretical concepts and experience of the struggle of the Left SRs [Socialist Revolutionaries, a radical party of Russian revolutions centered on agrarian socialism], the Maximalist SRs, syndicalists, communists of workers’ councils, autonomists, left-wing nationalists, etc. Since the beginning of the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, I took an anti-war internationalist position and, unlike other some so-called “leftists,” did not support any of the parties. Unfortunately, a more constructive position could not be formed due to the lack of information. For me it was strange to read that some so-called comrades write about me on the Internet: they say had I not been put behind the bars, I would now be fighting in the ATO zone as part of a volunteer battalion. These comrades browbeat me even more unpleasantly than the investigators and the prosecutors did.
[Explaining why he was singing the Ukrainian anthem together with Oleg Sentsov upon hearing their verdicts:] I am not trying to flirt neither with the Ukrainian government nor with the patriotic feelings of my compatriots. It’s just that after winter of 2013-2014, I started to perceive the Ukrainian national anthem in a different way, with the same awe as the “L’Internationale,” “Warszawianka,” “Power In A Union,” “Solidarity Forever,” “Which Side Are You On?”, “Bella, ciao!”, “Comrades, Let’s Bravely March” [a late 19th century Russian revolutionary song] etc. After seeing how people on Independence Square in Kyiv, all to [wo]man take off the hats and sing the national anthem … It was very hard! Prior to this experience, for me, this anthem was only one of the state symbols of Ukraine and its singing was just a ritual, not bearing any meaning. During the events of  2013-2014 winter, every line gained the meaning. “Souls and bodies we’ll lay down, all for our freedom.” For many people and for me in particular, these words have become something more than a line of the national anthem.
***
In a conversation with Oleg Sentsov I said that I would like to ask my friends to send me The Adventures of Chipollino by Gianni Rodari. He was surprised: “Why? We are living in a fairy tale already.” During the transfer, one man told about the horrors of this special regime in one of the regions. And almost half of those 20 prisoners who heard it, far from being sentimental or impressible, were on the verge of crying. Horrible things.
***
It looks like I do not have great perspectives, but I still hope that in the near future I will get the opportunity to meet personally with each of those who support me.

You can write a letter to Alexander Kolchenko:
Alexander Kolchenko (born) 456612, ul. Kemerovskaya 20, IK-6, Kopeysk, Chelyabinskaya oblast, Russia

Avtonom.org (11 August 2016)
18 Sep

Ukraine imposed sanctions against judges of Sentsov and Kolchenko

National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed sanctions on some law enforcers and judicial bodies of Russia. It was reported by the press service of the National Security Council.

“We are talking about the law enforcers and judicial bodies of Russia responsible for the illegal persecution of Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, and the others, who have been wrongfully detained, convicted and is illegally held in the territory of Russia,” as said by the press service.

Oleg Sentsov he was sentenced to 20 years in Russian penal colony, Alexander Kolchenko has got 10 years. Sentsov is accused of preparing terrorist attack, planning bombings at the “Eternal Flame” memorial and the monument to Lenin in Simpefopol,and to setting fire to the offices of the Russian Community of Crimea public organization and the United Russia party branch in Simferopol. Kolchenko is accused of of involvement in the terrorist community, and committing a terrorist act.

29 Aug

Kolchenko reads a lot and wants to learn the profession of carpenter – human rights defender

On the day of the anniversary of his sentence, 25 August, Alexander Kol’chenko, political prisoner convicted in Russia for allegedly preparing terrorist attacks, was transferred to solitary confinement penal colony №6 in Kopeisk

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Russian human rights defenders Tatyana and Nikolai Shchur learned why did this happen and how Kolchenko felt after the transfer.

Nikolai Shchur: We have visited him on August 25, the anniversary of the verdict day. We managed to see and to talk to him, and he greeted (in Ukrainian) everyone who remembered him. He is good. I mean that neither the administration nor the prisoners do make a physical or moral pressure against him. He is in a good health condition too.

At the same time, he does not receive the periodicals – “Novaya Gazeta” newspaper and the magazine “Popular Mechanics,” subscribed by his friends. He saw then in the library, but he cannot reach them.

Irina Romaliyskaya: Why cannot he just simply receive the periodicals?

Nikolai Shchur: Every time the administration of the colony says: “Yes, yes, of course, necessarily will do something with that,” but does nothing. In addition, correspondence and letters from his supporters he receives only on that days when we come to the colony. According to Russian law, we send a special notification about our visit, and then Kolchenko immediately receives all the letters that came to him. Three times have we send the notification, three times was he given all the letters at once (in one pack). No one can guarantee that this pack contains all the letters that came to him.

In the beginning, I said that there is no pressure against Sasha, but this obscenity is directly ordered from the center. In my act, I noted that we believe it is the policy of the authorities. The central authorities still do not allow the consul to visit Kolchenko in the colony.

Irina Romaliyskaya: Why central government behave this way?

Nikolai Shchur: This is a philosophical question. Can anyone sane explain why we have a war now?

Kolchenko is now in a punishment cell. After arriving from the hospital, he was immediately placed in a punishment cell. The weather is not typical for Ural – more than 30 ° C. Sasha was placed in the punishment cell because of wearing unspecified form of clothes (shorts and t-shirt) when coming outside. He has washed his only set of clothes, and that is why he put on shorts and a T-shirt. Half the prisoners wear T-shirts and shorts, but Kolchenko was punished by being placed in a punishment cell. Currently, he is there, and would be released the next day.

Tatiana Shchur: When we asked investigators why Kolchenko was in a punishment cell, they said, “You know, he came out of his cell with a book in his hands.” They were outraged by the fact that he reads.

Irina Romaliyskaya: Please tell our listeners what is the punishment cell.

Nikolai Shchur: A prison cell-type is situated onside the colony. The cells are very narrow – 1.5 meters (width) to 6 meters (length); the ceilings are very high – 2-3 meters. The stretchers are very; the prisoners are not allowed to lie on them during the daytime. You cannot lie during the day. One hour is allocated for a walk, the rest of time must be spend in the chamber.

Irina Romaliyskaya: Is reading somehow limited there?

Nikolai Shchur: No, there is a library. Everyone might take and read the books from there.

Tatiana Kurmanova: Can a common citizen send a parcel to him?

Nikolai Shchur: Under Russian law, the number of parcels is limited, but the number of packages up to two kilogramm is not limited.

Tatiana Shur: It would be better if you inform us before sending your parcel. We will verify the fact of its receipt. Another “tip,” you should better use handwriting text when writing a letter. And use Russian. You can send vitamins. Books and stationery are not accepted.

Irina Romaliyskaya: What is Kolchenko’s morale?

Nikolai Shur: It is very good. Well done! He reads a lot. He is going to study at a vocational school there.

Tatiana Shur: I really like that he has a sense of humor. I think that it helped him to get along with other prisoners.

Irina Romaliyskaya: What profession he wants to learn?

Nikolai Shur: He wants to learn be a carpenter.

I would read few words from Sasha: “Hi! Thank you very much for your support. Everything goes not as well as one would hope. Despite the circumstances that “freeze” the correspondence, I do not stop fighting. I would like to apologize to all those who wrote to me and to whom I have not replied yet. I am in an information vacuum. Thank you all. The struggle continues.”

hromadskeradio.org (27 August 2016)
12 Jul

Alexander Kolchenko visited by his lawyer in Kopeisk colony

Lawyer Svetlana Sidorkina has visited Alexander Kolchenko in Kopeisk penal colony №6, journalist Anton Naumlyuk reported in his Facebook.

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“Sasha lives in an information vacuum; he does not receive any subscriptions, and he does not know the news, so he is just waiting for the letters. He is happy for Gena Afanasiev and Nadia Savchenko. Sasha cannot communicate with Oleg Sentsov and it makes him upset. Naturally, he misses his friends and relatives. He has gain weight slightly. He has no complains about the administration and the prisoners. Sasha has a cheerful mood, as he is looking forward to obtaining Ukraine’s help,” said Sidorkina. Kolchenko has not been receiving the letters for a long time. June 30, he has received them all at once and had not enough time to respond.
Alexander Kolchenko was offered to obtain Russian citizenship, but he refused. “Of course, there was not any violent imposing of refusal from the Ukrainian nationality. He was just offered to fill in the documents if he wanted to. Ukrainian consul in Yekaterinburg did not show up,” said the lawyer.
According to a member of the Public Oversight Commission in Chelyabinsk region Tatyana Shur, Ukraine’s Consul is not allowed under the pretext that Alexander supposedly is “not a citizen of Ukraine.”

12 July 2016

 

30 Jun

Afanasyev unveiled new details of his detention in the Russian Federation

Former Crimean political prisoner Gennady Afanasiev said that prison inmates called him “a decent man” after he had withdrawn his testimony against Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko.

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After Ukrainian political prisoner Gennady Afanasiev refused of give evidence against his colleagues Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko, he was taken to the detention center in Rostov-on-Don (Russia) and placed in a cell together with the previously convicted prisoners. Afanasiev told about it in his latest interview with “Censor.NET.”

“After the trial, I was brought to the detention center. Handcuffed sat I at the table, while FSB representative began to question me: ‘Who told you to do that? How did Sentsov’s people find you? Why did you do that? Do you realize what will happen to you? Rejected your pre-trial testimony! We would hold a briefing and admit that you were under pressure when witnessing.’ I was sitting without a move and whispering Pater noster. He looked very annoyed, and he bit me,” noted Afanasiev.

“When I was taken to the detention facility №1 in Rostov. They placed me into a cell for eight people, but actually, there were 20 prisoners. We agreed a special schedule to sleep in three shifts. Our bed sheets were very dirty. I was thrown into one cell with those who were serving their second sentence. The wardens expected them to bull me because of my pre-trial agreement. They thought that they would rape me. They were all tattooed with the domes (special type of tattoo of theft-in-law), from head to toes,” he added.

According to Afanasiev, the prisoners called him “a decent man.” “They listened to me, looked at my poor condition and believed. They did not hurt me. They said: ‘You’re a decent man, stay in our company’,” Afanasiev confessed.

When the law enforcers noticed it, Afanasiev was transferred to a special departure for terrorists. “They poured water on our cars to make us catch cold. I do not share all the details of my story, because they are enough to write a whole book. I came to the penal colony in Syktyvkar. I refused to cooperate with the operatives, and they realized that I was not afraid anymore. So they had planted a blade on me in order to find it. It was a reason to send me to the strict conditions of detention – in solitary confinement,” Afanasiev recalled.

He said that he was kept in a tiny room (3×4 m).

“There were two or three centimeters of ice on the walls, the bed was chained to the wall. I could only sit on a cold stool, and the bed sheet was given only for the night. They have taken away my personal belongings; I was not allowed to use the boiler to have some hot water. I just had nothing. You just can stand or walk. I began to write the complaints to help myself and other prisoners. I wrote about opening a criminal case against those who tortured me,” said Afanasiev.

Afanasiev was arrested in May 2014 in Crimea, together with three other pro-Ukrainian activists, including a Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov.

A Russian court found him guilty of planning terrorist attacks and burning offices of the two parties in Simferopol. Afanasiev agreed to cooperate with the investigation and has received seven years in prison, but during the trial Sentsov retracted his previous testimony and said that they gave under torture.

June 14, 2016 Afanasiev and another Ukrainian, Yuri Soloshenko, were exchanged for two fellow Ukrainian citizens, suspected of separatism and treason. They are journalists Elena Glischinskaya and Vitaliy Didenko from Odesa.

After coming back to Ukraine Afanasiev told about his tortures in the Russian jail. According to him, the jail employees connected wires to his genitals and turned on the power supply.

Later Afanasiev said he intends to apply to the European Court of Human Rights to penalize those who tortured him in a Russian prison.