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Oleksandr Kolchenko: 10 years for opposing Russia’s invasion of Crimea

Halya Coynash

Oleksandr Kolchenko is one of at least 45 Ukrainians illegally held prisoner in Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea. He and Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov need our letters of support, and our advocacy with politicians and the media to ensure international pressure on Russia to release them.

Oleksandr Kolchenko is a left wing civic activist who opposed Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Now 27, he has been imprisoned in Russia for over three years. His trial and 10-year sentence were internationally condemned.


He was arrested on 18 May 2014, soon after Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and two other Ukrainians: Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chirniy.

All four men were held incommunicado for up to three weeks, first in Simferopol (Crimea), then in Moscow, before being shown on Russian TV at the end of May.


The FSB asserted on 30 May 2014 that the four men were members of a ‘Right Sector ‘terrorist’ plot who had been planning terrorist attacks on vital parts of Crimea’s infrastructure. It claimed, for example, that they were planning to blow up railway bridges, although there are none in Crimea. 

Kolchenko was convicted on August 25, 2015 of ‘involvement in a terrorist organisation (Article 205.4 § 2 of the Russian Criminal Code) and of taking part in a firebomb attack on the offices of the United Russia party in Simferopol (Article 205 § 2a) .


Kolchenko never denied the firebomb incident during which he had held guard on the street while a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a deserted office during the night.   Identical attacks in Russia, however, are treated as hooliganism, and normally get suspended sentences.

There was no evidence of ‘terrorism’ at all.

The prosecution’s case was based solely on confessions obtained from Afanasyev and Chirniy while they were held incommunicado and without lawyers.

Kolchenko and Sentsov have consistently denied the terrorism charges and spoken of being tortured to force confessions.  So too did Afanasyev when he stood up at the trial of Sentsov and Kolchenko and stated that all previous testimony had been untrue and extracted through torture.

The trial

The FSB had imposed a regime of virtually total secrecy until the trial of Kolchenko and Sentsov began in the summer of 2015.  It became clear from Day 1 that the prosecution had no real evidence and on 5 August 2015, the Memorial Human Rights Centre declared both Kolchenko and Sentsov political prisoners.

Despite the lack of any evidence, the refusal by Chyrniy to give testimony in court and Afanasyev’s retraction of his testimony, ‘judges’ Sergei Arkadyevich MikhailyukViacheslav Alexeevich  Korsakov and Edward Vasilyevich Korobenko from the Rostov Military Court sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in a maximum security prison and Kolchenko to 10. 


Russia is also claiming that Kolchenko and Sentsov ‘automatically’ became Russian citizens.  Both have rejected this, and an application with the European Court of Human Rights has been lodged on Kolchenko’s behalf.


Please write to Oleksandr (Sasha) Kolchenko who, also in breach of international law, is being held thousands of kilometres from his home (see advice on letters). 

Russia, 456612, Chelyabinsk oblast, Kopeisk, ul. Kemerovskaya, 20, Prison No. 6,

Kolchenko, Alexander Alexandrovych, born 1989  [the Russified form of his name and patronymic have more chance of getting through]

Birthday:   26 November

See also:

Oleksandr Kolchenko is spending a 3rd birthday in Russian prison for opposing annexation of Crimea

Punitive Russification as Russia’s new excuse for not releasing Ukrainians Sentsov & Kolchenko

Prominent Russians warn of mounting political terror, demand release of Sentsov & Kolchenko

Details in English on Memorial’s recognition of Kolchenko and Sentsov political prisoners



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