Famous left-wing film maker Ken Loach has again joined  others, in calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to order the release of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, who could face up to 23 years on charges of “plotting terrorist acts” in Crimea.

Sentsov is being held along with well known anti-fascist activist Oleksandr Kolchenko – ludicrously accused of being a part of the Right Sector. Both were arrested in Crimea following its annexation by Russia.

The show trial is ongoing despite the  key witness for the prosecution Gennady Afanasyev having retracted his testimony as ‘given under pressure and duress,’  The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has recognized  Afanasyev as a political prisoner and warned that he is in danger following his retraction of testimony against  Oleg Sentsov and left-wing activist Kolchenko.

Sentsov stood before a Russian court in Rostov-on-Don on 19th August  to offer a defiant closing statement in his trial with a co-defendant Kolchenko. In his remarks, he challenged the legitimacy of an occupied Crimea “governed by criminals” and he spurned a path of “cowardice” that might accommodate or excuse Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.  A full video of his speech from the dock is available here  –  Ukrainian Film Director’s Defiant Court Statement: ‘The Greatest Sin Is Cowardice’.

European Filmmakers Open Letter for Immediate Release of Oleg Sentsov

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – President of Russia
Sergey Evgenyevich Naryshkin – Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
Alexander Wassiljewitsch Bortnikow – Director of the FSB
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kolokoltsev – Russian Minister of Internal Affairs
Yuriy Yakovlevich Chaika – Prosecutor General

From the moment when we learned that the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was arrested by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) in his house in Simferopol on 11 May 2014, we have been deeply worried. We have followed the proceedings from a trial repeatedly being postponed until over one year later when it finally opened in Rostov-on-Don. Having observed the trial and especially the fact that the key witness for the prosecution has retracted his testimony as “given under pressure and duress”, we are shocked that the accusation of Oleg Sentsov having committed “crimes of a terrorist nature” is still being upheld.

In the light of these circumstances, we respectfully call upon you
•    to ensure the safety of Oleg Sentsov;
•    to have the charges dropped due to insufficient evidence;
•    to have the detained released immediately and unconditionally;
•    to ensure complete rehabilitation of the detained;
•    to instigate a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention by the FSB and Oleg Sentsov’s statements about torture in order to bring all those responsible to justice.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Daldry, director, UK
Mike Downey, producer, UK
Agnieszka Holland, director, Poland
Dariusz Jablonski, producer, Poland
Aki Kaurismäki, director, Finland
Mike Leigh, director, UK
Ken Loach, director, UK
Wojciech Marczewski, director, Poland
Daniel Olbrychski, actor, Poland
Volker Schlöndorff, director, Germany
Béla Tarr, director, Hungary
Bertrand Tavernier, director, France
Andrzej Wajda, director, Poland
Wim Wenders, director, Germany
Krzysztof Zanussi, director, Poland

The European Film Academy also thanks its friends at the Polish Film Academy who Support this letter:

Jacek Bławut, DoP/director
Ryszard Bugajski, director/screenwriter
Feliks Falk, director/screenwriter
Janusz Głowacki, screenwriter
Jerzy Hoffman, director/screenwriter
Andrzej Jakimowski, director/screenwriter/producer
Violetta Kaminska, producer
Jan Kidawa-Błoński, director/screenwriter
Joanna Kos-Krauze, director/screenwriter
Stefan Laudyn, festival director
Olena Leonenko, actress
Marcel Łoziński, director/screenwriter
Janusz Majewski, director/screenwriter
Paweł Pawlikowski, director
Ewa Piaskowska, producer
Jerzy Skolimowski, director/screenwriter
Allan Starski, production designer
Małgorzata Szumowska, director/screenwriter
Izabela Wojcik, producer
Andrzej Żuławski, director

Berlin, 18 August 2015

see also:
Gennady Afanasyev declared a political prisoner, with Sentsov & Kolchenko
Afanasyev beaten after retracting testimony in Russia’s show trial of Oleg Sentsov
Russia’s Crimean Show Trial: “No illusions” about Sentsov & Kolchenko acquittal
A Rotten Plot: Oleg Sentsov refuses to take part in Russian ‘terrorism trial’ farce
Tortured for testimony against Sentsov-Kolchenko in Russia’s ‘Crimean terrorist plot’ trial
Sentsov & Kolchenko declared political prisoners as rot exposed in Russia’s Crimean ‘terrorist’ trial
Russia’s Sentsov-Kolchenko trial in tatters: Afanasyev retracts testimony given under duress
Sentsov & Kolchenko face 20-year sentences for non-existent ’terrorism’
Trial of Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko: First Day
Wish Oleg Sentsov Freedom on his Birthday!
Sentsov-Kolchenko trial, Crimea and what Russia has to hide
Trial begins of Sentsov and Kolchenko as OSCE demands their release