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


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.


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

05 May

Sasha Kolchenko’s mother visits her son in a prison

The visit was enabled owing to donations collected by the well-known Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan and his band, Zhadan i Sobaky. Larisa Kolchenko says her son Sasha (Alexander) has already adapted to rigid conditions of Chelyabinsk region and almost does not get sick. The information was provided by Russian human rights activist Yana Goncharova at her Facebook page. See her post below.

Remember how we together with Zhadan i Sobaky [“Zhadan and the Dogs”; collaboration of famous writer Serhiy Zhadan and “Dogs in Outher Space” ska-punk band] were collecting money for Sasha Kolchenko’s mother could visit her son the Russian colony? Finally, it happened !!! Larisa Kolchenko has just returned from a long meeting with Sasha.

It is still cold in Chelyabinsk, +7°C; Sasha has already adapted to these conditions and almost does not get sick, although sometimes he has a runny nose. The colony staff does not qualify this like an illness, anyway, there are no medicines to treat the convicts.
The high calorie diet, which he had for several months (as he said – these were just some extra grams of butter and milk), did not help him – weight deficiency is obvious.
Tundra is studying plumber program and would graduate soon. He also studies English and reads a lot. Sasha told me how he teaches the verbs of action, and reads [Philip Zimbardo’s] The Lucifer Effect. A decent book, he says. By the way, he began to put in order the prison library, because there are books like “Introduction to Gynecology” – I just wondered who needed such a book there?

By the way, the books that we collected for him on his birthday are still in the process of transferring to the library. They should still undergo a long procedure of censorship (maybe, someone wrote “hello” to him in the margin)? It is still unknown whether books in Ukrainian would be taken to the library.

He usually receives the letters, although not without difficulties – he constantly has to apply to the prison administration. And according to the internal (informal) rules, applying to the prison administration is unwelcomed. Therefore, he tries to do it infrequently. By the way, the letter of Alex Gaskarov [a recently released Russian left-wing social activist and Putin’s political prisoner] was half-censored by the censors (though it was posted by Takie Dela project as a sample of “how to write letters to political prisoners”).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (Ukrainian consul is not allowed) will write another request to get at allowance for a meeting with Kolchenko.

Larisa Kolchenko gave many thanks for helping to organize her trip, and especially to Sergiy Zhadan for his support.

Tundra [Kolchenko’s nickname] sends warm greetings to everyone. He says that he misses everyone and wants to return home.

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)
07 Dec

Support for Sentsov and Kolchenko at DOCUDAYS UA festival in Uzhhorod

Viewers of the film Those Who Said No, shown at the festival of documentary films DOCUDAYS in Uzhhorod, joined the flashmob in support of the “Crimean hostages” – Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko. This was announced by the Solidarity Committee member Maxim Butkevitch.


At each film screening, one can sign postcards for the political prisoners held in Russia, as well as purchase T-shirts and jerseys of the Solidarity Committee; the collected money will go to support the prisoners and, among other things, to help in the organization of a visit of Alexander’s mother.

Previously, the initiative “Help Sasha meet his mother” was joined by a lot of people in Ukraine, including Zhadan and Dogs band as part of the latter’s #PSYchotour.

Photos: Valentin Klepakov

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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


“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.”

26 Nov

Solidarity actions with Alexandr Kolchenko held in Kyiv, Ternopil, Krakow, and Berlin

Solidarity actions took place in Kyiv, Ternopil, Krakow, and Berlin to honor the birthday of political prisoner Alexandr Kolchenko (26 September).


One of the actions took place in Kyiv at the monument to the philosopher author Grigory Skovoroda (Kontraktova Square). The event was organized by the “Solidarity Committee” (support group for the “Crimean Hostages”).

Committee activist and human rights defender Maksym Butkevych noted that this time the 27th birthday of Kolchenko coincided with the mourning day of remembrance of the Holodomor [the Great Famine of 1932-1933] victims. “Therefore, marking this birthday in a festive way would be quite inappropriate. Instead, at the current solidarity action we decided to express the hope that this land will never be hungry again; we decided to feed random people, whom we meet at one of the central squares of Kyiv, under the slogan “Food Not Repression” [or “Food Not Jails”]; and inform them about Sasha,” said Butkevych. He implied that Tundra [Alexandr Kolchenko], in line with his anarchist philosophy, himself has participated in similar activities, “Food Not Bombs”, distributing vegetarian food to people in need in Simferopol”.

Alexander’s mother Larisa Kolchenko, former fellow political prisoner Gennady Afanasiev, human rights activists Alexandra Nazarova and Alexandra Dvoretska, lawyer Eugenia Zakrevskaya, and a number of Sasha’s friends and comrades also spoke at the event. Organizers said that the collective photo taken during the rally will be sent to Alexander Kolchenko.

On the same day, solidarity rallies took place in Krakow and Berlin. On Saturday, “Zhadan and the Dogs” band [collaboration of famous writer Serhiy Zhadan and “Dogs in Outher Space” ska band], which previously joined “Give Sasha meeting with his mother” campaign, held a solidarity event in Ternopil. Musicians hang a «Free Kolchenko!» banner on the stage at the gig.


Solidarity Committee member Maksym Butkevych speaks at Kyiv rally


Banner with Sentsov and Kolchenko at Kyiv demo


Food Not Jails at Kyiv demo


Former political prisoner of the “Crimean Four” case Gennady Afanasiev speaking at Kyiv rally


Outline of the Crimean peninsula with a refernce to Kolchenko’s nickname (Tundra) and his anarchist political beliefs


Picket of the Russian embassy in Berlin




Food Not Bombs at Krakow demo


Serhiy Zhadan: writer, poet, singer, and campaigner for Kolchenko’s release


Serhiy Zhadan’s press conference in Ternopil


25 Nov

Solidarity with Olexandr Kolchenko: Call for the International Action Day


On 26 November 2016 (Saturday) Olexandr (Sasha) Kolchenko, an anarchist and civic rights activist from Crimea, will turn 27. It will be his third birthday in Russian jail.


In May 2014 Olexandr (together with a film maker Oleh Sentsov and two more persons) was arrested by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), shipped from Crimean territory to Russia and accused of “preparing terrorist attacks”. Kolchenko has been ultimately sentenced to 10 years of the high security prison camp, and Sentsov – to 20 years.

Olexandr and Oleh, their friends and human rights defenders insist that the case against them is fabricated. They were put behind bars for active participation in protests against Russia’s ’ilitary invasion in Crimea.

“Solidarity Committee” initiative from Kyiv, Ukraine, holds a support action for Olexandr Kolchenko on 26 November – and calls all those who do not want to indifferently stand by to join in solidarity. By street protests, petitions or other events and actions we suggest to greet Sasha with his birthday and to show Russian authorities that he is not forgotten, and that activists demand his immediate release. Every next person’s efforts and participation increase a chance that Olexandr celebrates his next birthday as a free person, with his comrades and friends.

More on the case: http://solidarityua.info/en/

“Solidarity Committee”