On Day 54 of Oleg Sentsov’s indefinite hunger strike the members of FAN of Europe, the European network of national film academies and the European Film Academy, representing thousands of filmmakers from across the continent, have appealed for the immediate release of the Ukrainian filmmaker. At their annual meeting during the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival they asked President Putin and the Russian authorities to finally show a human face and to release Oleg Sentsov immediately.
Human Rights organisations from around the world and thousands of filmmakers and artists from Europe and America have raised their voices for his support since the director and father of two children started his hunger strike on 14 May. People in over 70 cities in over 30 countries joined manifestations in the streets. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, appealed in his opening speech of the G7 Summit for Sentsov’s release and so did the European Parliament and other politicians and parliaments.
Until today all appeals and diplomatic approaches remained unheard. In the eighth week of his hunger strike the life of Oleg Sentsov is in severe danger.
Oleg Sentsov, who was involved in supporting the Euro Maidan protests in Kiev and who opposed the annexation of Crimea by Russia, was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) in his house in Simferopol on 10 May 2014 and brought to Moscow where he was detained and awaiting trial for over a year.
Although the key witness had retracted his testimony as given “under duress”, the trial, based on the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed “crimes of a terrorist nature”, was continued, and Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison. At the end of what Amnesty International described as “an unfair trial in a military court”, in late November 2015 the Russian Supreme Court in Moscow confirmed this sentence and Oleg Sentsov was moved to Yakutia. He is now on hunger strike for his own release and the release of 64 political prisoners from Ukraine.