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.

Oppose Russian Occupation of Crimea & Face 20 Years for ’Terrorism’

Halya Coynash
There is no evidence of terrorism against any of the four Ukrainian opponents of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and no doubt at all that all four men are illegally held and should be released under the Minsk Accords


Oleg Sentsov (left) and Oleksandr Kolchenko sang Ukraine’s national anthem as the 20- and 10-year sentences were being read out 

No evidence of ‘terrorism’ against any of the four Ukrainians;

Serious grounds for believing that all were subjected to torture;

Almost total secrecy about the case before the trial, with the men’s lawyers prohibited from saying anything about it;

All are Ukrainians and were illegally taken from Crimea to Russia with the latter claiming that they have ‘automatically’ become Russian nationals;

All international bodies and democratic countries have demanded the release of two men – Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko as required by the Minsk Accords (and ‘all others illegally held”;

Sentsov, Kolchenko and Gennady Afanasyev have been recognized as political prisoners

Oleg Sentsov – world-renowned Ukrainian filmmaker and Euromaidan activist; 39-year-old father of two young children

Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on charges of being the mastermind of a ‘ultranationalist Right Sector terrorist group’ and planning various ‘terrorist acts’.

He has, from the outset, given a detailed account of the torture he was subjected to, and the threat that if he did not provide the testimony demanded, the FSB would call him the organizer and he’s get a much worse sentence. 

No specific charges, nor anything directly incriminating him in any offence, terrorist or otherwise.

There is nothing to link him with Right Sector

The only ‘evidence’ was the testimony of two other Ukrainians arrested a day earlier, both of whom got minimum sentences (7 years) for ‘cooperating with the investigators’)

One – Gennady Afanasyev – refused to give testimony at the trial, and retracted all previously given testimony as given under torture.  The other – Oleksy Chirniy – refused to testify in court. 

Recognized as a political prisoner by the Memorial Human Rights Centre, and as subject to release under the Minsk Accords.

The court ignored all of the above and sentenced him to 20 years in a maximum security prison. 

Oleksandr Kolchenko –  26-year-old left-wing civic activist who was accused together with Sentsov of involvement in a ‘Right Sector terrorist plot’. 

There was no evidence of any such plot, nor any likelihood, given how far Kolchenko’s views are from those of the right-wing and ultra-nationalist Right Sector.

Kolchenko was also accused of one specific offence – of taking part in an ‘arson attack’ on the office of the United Russia political party in Simferopol.  The said attack involved throwing one Molotov cocktail at the offices late in the evening when nobody would be there. 

Kolchenko has never denied his role in this, but does not agree that this was ‘terrorism’.  In this he is supported by, among others, Memorial HRC which points out that similar acts in Russia have not been called ‘terrorism’, and have received sentences many times less.

One of the applications before the European Court of Human Rights is over Russia’s claim that Kolchenko is a Russian citizen. 

Gennady Afanasyev

took part in the same firebomb incident as Kolchenko, and another similar one, seeing this as legitimate protest against organizations directly involved in Russia’s seizure of power in Crimea. 

He and Oleksy Chirniy both ‘confessed’ to being part of a ‘Right Sector terrorist plot’ and testified against Sentsov and Kolchenko. 

None of the men had had access to lawyers, nor their families, and Afanasyev has confirmed all that Sentsov and Kolchenko say about the torture used to extract those ‘confessions’. 

Due to the secrecy imposed on the case, all that was known about Afanasyev until July 31, 2015, was that he had been convicted of the ‘terrorist charges’ and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment in a closed court hearing.  He had had no content with either a proper lawyer, nor with the Ukrainian consul.

Then on July 31 this year, he appeared at the trial of Sentsov and Kolchenko and, instead of refusing only to testify, as he’d been instructed by the FSB, he also stated clearly that all his testimony had been obtained through torture. 

Memorial HRC declared Afanasyev a political prisoner and warned that he was in danger for his courageous stand.  

Afanasyev has, as was threatened, been sent to a prison colony in the far north of Russia [the Republic of Komi] with extremely harsh conditions.  In the space of just the first month, four punishments were imposed for fabricated misdemeanours and there are real grounds for concern that he may not survive such treatment for long. 

Little is known about Oleksy Chirniy, aside from what was revealed during the trial of Sentsov and Kolchenko.  He can at most also be accused of trying to cause damage to a monument to Vladimir Lenin with a bomb, which he planned to explode during the night. 

Russian human rights defenders condemned the trial of Sentsov and Kolchenko, calling it “ideologically-motivated state terror” against opponents of Russian occupation of Crimea. 

All four men are clearly victims of repression and as illegally held by Russia, a party to the Minsk Accords, must be released and returned to Ukraine. 


Please write to the men (at present we don’t have Oleksy Chirniy’s address)

Messages in Russian are most likely to get through, though short messages in simple English may also.  Even if they do not, they will still help by demonstrating to the prison administration in Gennady Afanasyev’s case, and to the Russian authorities, that the men are not forgotten and that Russia’s treatment of them is under scrutiny.

The following message, maybe with a photograph or similar (nothing political!) would be fine:

Добрый день,

Желаю Вам здоровья, мужества и терпения, надеюсь на скорое освобождение.

Мы о Вас помним.   

Hello, I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released.  You are not forgotten. 


Update:  Sentsov and Kolchenko will be moved any day – please see the text here for an easy way to write to them

Gennady Afanasyev

167028, Республика Коми, г. Сыктывкар, п. Верхний Чов,  ИК-25,    

Афанасьеву, Геннадию Сергеевичу (1990 г.)


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