Hefty prison sentences of up to two decades handed down by a Russian military court against two Ukrainian activists today are a blatant injustice after a patently unfair trial marred by credible allegations of torture, Amnesty International said.
The military court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don sentenced film director Oleg Sentsov to 20 years and ecologist and anti-fascist activist Aleksandr Kolchenko to 10 years on “terrorism” charges which they deny and claim were politically motivated. The two were accused of arson attacks on pro-Russian groups following Russia’s occupation of Crimea last year.
Earlier this year, Movies that Matter, the Human Rights Film Network and the European Film Academy called on the Russian authorities to release Sentsov immediately in several letters signed by many supporters.
“This 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,” said Heather McGill, Eurasia Researcher at Amnesty International.