war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Oleg Sentsov: “I feel far freer than most Russians”

Halya Coynash
Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko are facing 20-year sentences for not cooperating with the FSB and ‘confessing’ to a Right Sector ‘terrorist plot. Sentsov’s letter shows yet again that the FSB miscalculated with these Ukrainian hostages

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko are facing 20-year sentences for not cooperating with the FSB and ‘confessing’ to a Right Sector ‘terrorist plot.  Sentsov’s letter shows yet again that the FSB miscalculated with these Ukrainian hostages

As the first anniversary approaches of Oleg Sentsov’s arrest and effective abduction to Russia, the Ukrainian film director has written that he considers himself much freer than the vast majority of Russians and thanks those who’ve supported him and those against Russia’s annexation of his native Crimea. 

“I’ll say right now that I feel fine. Both physically and psychologically. I don’t therefore even intend to answer questions like “do you regret things?” or “what are you hoping for?” which I view as like women’s novels from the end of the nineteenth century. I don’t regret anything, and am not hoping for anything. I simply live. At the moment I’m living in prison, that’s my position on life.  I consider myself far freer than the vast majority of Russians who live in a Chekhovian case from which they love Putin through a little peek-hole. “

Sentsov’s lawyer Dmitry Dindze reports that the FSB [Russian Security Service] have completed the ‘investigation’ and he and Sentsov will begin reading the file material next week.  Dindze himself was forced to sign an undertaking not to divulge any information, but hopefully now more detail will become available. 

Sentsov was handed the final indictment on April 16.  His lawyer said then that there were some changes, but gave no information, and a simple list of the articles of the Criminal Code with which he is charged could give the false impression that there are actually specific charges against him.

Against civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko  there is one: a Molotov cocktail thrown at the offices of the United Russia party late at night when there was nobody inside.  Kolchenko admits the offence, but asserts, and his lawyer Svetlana Sidorchkina confirms, that this can in no way be considered ‘terrorism’. 

Any other charges against Kolchenko and Sentsov, who are to be tried together by a military court in Rostov on the Don, appear to be vague and based solely on the evidence of at least one of the other men originally arrested.

Four opponents of Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, were arrested in May 2014.  All four men were initially held without access to lawyers or their families in Simferopol, and were then taken to Moscow. 

On May 30 the FSB announced that Sentsov, Kolchenko, Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirniy were members of a Right Sector ‘diversionary terrorist group’.  The FSB claimed that they had been planning to carry out ‘diversionary-terrorist’ acts in Simferopol; Yalta and Sevastopol, and in the last of these to destroy a number of buildings, railway bridges and power lines.  They had supposedly intended to detonate home-made explosive devices during the night before Victory Day near the Eternal Flame and near a monument to Lenin, and were also accused of arson attacks on a pro-Russian organization’s building on April 14 and the United Russia offices on April 18. 

That report on May 30 asserted that searches of the men’s homes had found the following: ‘explosive substances; firearms; ammunitions; canisters with inflammatory liquid; construction masks (similar to those used during the disturbances on Maidan); respirators; gas masks; aerosol cans with paint; nationalist symbols, etc.”

The FSB announcement coincided with reports on pro-Kremlin television showing ‘confessions’ given by Afanasyev and Chirniy. 

Afanasyev appears to have cooperated with the investigators from his ‘confession’ on, providing testimony against Sentsov.  He was ‘tried’ in secret in December 2014, and received the minimum sentence possible for terrorism charges (7 years). 

Chirniy’s position remained unclear for a long time, however he finally agreed to cooperate with the investigators and was sentenced (in an open but extremely quick trial) on April 21 to the same 7 year minimum sentence.

He was found guilty of planning to organize explosions on the night before Victory Day [May 9] near the Eternal Flame and a monument to Lenin in Simferopol, as well as arson attacks on the Russian Community of Crimea and the offices of the United Russia party. 

Kolchenko and Sentsov have been declared political prisoners by the Memorial Society, and other human rights organizations and there have been repeated calls from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and numerous other organizations for their release. 

The court hearings with Sentsov have been widely publicized and have shown the 39-year-old film director and solo father of two young children totally unbroken and contemptuous of the travesty in which he has been cast as ‘terrorist’.  He stated recently that the 20-year sentence was fixed from the outset, and that he does not fear it.  He added that the rule of the bloody dwarf in power in Russia would end sooner.

Please see and circulate the following video:

BOTH Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko are political prisoners and need support and maximum publicity. 

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