Russian cultural professionals have petitioned for imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov. The appeal has been published on the website of Echo of Moscow radio.
“Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! The man is dying. In our opinion, his guilt is not so great as to serve to 20 years. He is sincere and honest in his convictions, which is proved by his hunger strike. One should show mercy to save a life. We should soften the political climate in the country and make it up with the neighbours. We are urging you to pardon Oleg Sentsov,” the appeal reads.
It was signed by actress Chulpan Khamatova, directors Konstantin Bronzit, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Pavel Lungin, Yuri Norstein, Alexander Sokurov, Valeri Todorovski, Alexei Uchitel, Alexei Fedorchenko, TV hosts Vladimir Pozner, Ksenia Sobchak and others.
In 2016, Russian director Alexander Sokurov publicly asked Vladimir Putin to ‘tackle Sentsov’s problem’. The Russian leader flatly answeres that Sentsov had been convicted not for his creative work.
During the last court hearing, when the verdict was being read, Oleg Sentsov and activist Alexander Kolchenko sang the national anthem of Ukraine.
Oleg Sentsov, who demands that the Russian authorities release all Ukrainians jailed in Russia and Crimea, went on hunger strike on May, 14. There are 64 Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and Crimea.
In August 2015, a Russian court sentenced Oleg Sentsov to 20 years of imprisonment. He was found guilty of an “attempt to organize a ‘cell of ‘Right Sector’ [Ukrainian right-wing organisation] in Crimea”. The trial was held in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, The case was considered by North Caucasus District Military Court. The film director did not admit his guilt.
The charge was based on the testimony of Alexey Chyrny and Gennady Afanasiev. In court Afanasiev withdrew evidence saying that he had been tortured in jail. It is impossible to swap Sentsov for any Russian prisoner in Ukraine, because after the annexation of Crimea Russia started considering the Ukrainian director a citizen of Russia.