Friday 22 June 2018

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov sentenced to 20 years in Russian jail

Oleg Sentsov has been jailed in Russia for 20 years. (AP)
Oleg Sentsov has been jailed in Russia for 20 years. (AP)

A Ukrainian filmmaker has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Russian court for conspiracy to commit terror attacks.

Oleg Sentsov had set up a terror cell in the Crimean Peninsula and was plotting attacks, according to the court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.

Sentsov, a Crimean native, was a vocal opponent of Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula which followed a referendum. Critics have dismissed his prosecution as revenge for his pro-Ukrainian position.

Sentsov, who did not apply for Russian citizenship, was grabbed on a street in Crimea's capital in May 2014 by Russian security officers and resurfaced days later in custody in Moscow.

Earlier in the trial, Sentsov had pleaded not guilty and insisted that a Russian court had no jurisdiction.

Sentsov was tried along with a local activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. As the judge wrapped up the session, the two men began to sing the Ukrainian national anthem.

Russian prosecutors claim both men were plotting to blow up a Lenin monument and were behind attempts to burn down offices of two Russia-related organisations.

Dozens of prominent filmmakers, including Russian Golden Globe winner Andrei Zvyagintsev, have petitioned the Kremlin to release Sentsov.

Heather McGill of Amnesty International said: "The whole trial was designed to send a message. It played into Russia's propaganda war against Ukraine and was redolent of Stalinist-era show trials of dissidents."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko sent a message of support for Sentsov on his Facebook page.

"Hang in there, Oleg," he wrote. "A time will come when those who set this trial for you will land in the dock."

UK Minister for Europe David Lidington said the charges were "disproportionate" and voiced concern that the two men did not have access to a fair trial.

Press Association

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