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25.08.2015 | Halya Coynash

Sentsov and Kolchenko sing Ukrainian anthem as Russian ‘court’ passes expected sentences

   

A Russian court has sentenced Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov to 20 years harsh regime prison camp, and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko to 10 years.  The conviction and the sentences were anticipated, despite the lack of any crime to warrant them.  The two men responded with the same courage and independence that they have demonstrated from the outset: by standing arm in arm and singing Ukraine’s national anthem including the lines “We will lay down our body and our soul for our freedom”.   The video is available here:  https://openrussia.org/post/view/9195/

Protests are currently underway outside the Russian embassy in Kyiv, in Poland and Spain.  Amnesty International was reported to have called on Russia to withdraw the charges. 

Sentsov and Kolchenko have both been recognized as political prisoners by the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre, and there have been constant calls for their release from the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and all democratic countries.

Moscow has shown total contempt for protests over a trial of Ukrainians taken by force to Russia and tried for non-existent ‘terrorism’.  It has tried to foist Russian citizenship on both Sentsov and Kolchenko, and the latter’s lawyer has applied to the  European Court of Human Rights over this flagrant violation of the men’s rights.   

The heavy sentences for no crimes coincided with the news that Yevgenia Vasilyeva, a government official sentenced to 5 years imprisonment on serious corruption charges had been released after being on house arrest and then imprisoned for a mere 34 days. 

As reported, the proceedings were referred to as an “absolutely Stalinist trial” and the sentences only confirmed this.  The judges had listened to surreal nonsense during the hearings, and had then been told by Gennady Afanasyev that his testimony against Sentsov had been given under terrible torture and that he retracted every word.  The only ‘evidence’ against Sentsov was from the testimony of Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirniy.  The latter also refused to testify in court. 

Please see: Russia’s Sentsov – Kolchenko case - "an absolutely Stalinist trial" and join in any protests against this parody of a court trial.

 

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