Oleg Sentsov’s mother has asked president Vladimir Putin to pardon her son whom the Russian authorities sentenced to 20 years in prison. He has been hungerstriking for two months.
“All mothers love their children, they want them to be free and happy. I might well know my son as a peaceful citizen and a person who is passionate about his lifework – film directing, but it is hard to me to pass on the degree of his guilt. I am not going to convince you of Oleg’s innocence, but I do believe he is innocent. I will just say that he never killed anyone. He has already served four years in prison. His children are waiting for him, the youngest son is autistic. They miss him so bad. They will never be happy without their father,” Lyudmila Sentsova wrote in the petition published by The Echo of Moscow.
The woman calls on the Russian leader to show mercy and not to ruin the lives of her son and his family.
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.
A group of renowned Western actors and directors stood up for Oled Sentsov and asked the Russian authorities to release him. Andrzej Wajda, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Wim Wenders and others are among the petitioners. Amnesty International and Russian human rights center Memorial recognised Sentsov prisoner of conscience.