Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov (Ukrainian: Олег Геннадійович Сенцов, Oleh Hennadiiovych Sentsov) is a Ukrainian filmmaker, writer and political prisoner from Crimea. As a filmmaker he is best known for his 2011 film Gamer. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea he was arrested in Crimea and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a Russian court on charges of plotting terrorism acts. The conviction was described as fabricated by Amnesty International and others. He was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize in 2018.
Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov
Oleg Sentsov in 2017
|Alma mater||Kyiv National Economic University|
Sentsov was born on 13 July 1976 in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. He is an ethnic Russian. From 1993 to 1998 he was an economics student in Kiev and later took courses in film directing and screenwriting in Moscow. His first two short movies were A Perfect Day for Bananafish (2008) and The Horn of a Bull (2009). Gamer, his first feature, debuted at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2012. Its success in this and other festivals helped him secure funding for the forthcoming feature Rhino, production on which was postponed due to his work with the Euromaidan protest movement. It was scheduled to begin shooting in the summer of 2014.
After the November 2013 breakout of the Euromaidan protests Sentsov became an activist of "AutoMaidan" and during the 2014 Crimean crisis he helped deliver food and supplies to Ukrainian military servicemen trapped in their Crimean bases. Sentsov stated that he did not recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea.[nb 1]
Arrest and trialEdit
Arrest and detentionEdit
Sentsov was arrested on 11 May 2014 in Crimea on suspicion of "plotting terrorist acts". With Gennady Afanasyev, Alexei Chirniy, and Alexander Kolchenko, he became one of four Ukrainian citizens held by Russia's Federal Security Service, who accused them of seeking to carry out terrorist attacks on bridges, power lines, and public monuments in the Crimean cities Simferopol, Yalta, and Sevastopol. These charges are punishable with up to 20 years in prison.
After holding Sentsov without charges for three weeks, the Federal Security Service accused the four Ukrainians of being "part of a terrorist community, to carry out explosions with home-made devices on May 9, 2014 near the Eternal Flame memorial and Lenin monument in Simferopol and to set fire to the offices of the Russian Community of Crimea public organization and the United Russia party branch in Simferopol on April 14 and April 18, 2014". Sentsov, Afanasyev, Chirniy and Kolchenko were also accused of membership in Ukraine's nationalist paramilitary group, Right Sector, a claim that both Sentsov and Right Sector denied. Russian prosecutors stated that Sentsov confessed to the terrorist plots. But the filmmaker and his lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, who defended Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, denied this and he and Sentsov himself have stated that Sentsov was beaten and threatened with rape to force his confession. According to Sentsov's lawyers, investigators refused to open a case on his allegations of torture, suggesting that his bruises were self-inflicted and that he was keen on sado-masochism.
Starting on 19 May 2014, Sentsov was detained in Moscow's Lefortovo prison. On 26 June 2014 Russia's Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights appealed to Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin to review the circumstances surrounding the arrests of Sentsov and Kolchenko. A reply, posted on the council's website, stated prosecutors found "no grounds" for altering the detention of either suspect. On 7 July 2014 Sentsov's arrest was extended to 11 October. In October 2014 his arrest was again extended to 11 January 2015.
Sentsov went on trial for terrorism in Russia on 21 July 2015 among international outcry and an open letter by prominent European film directors Pedro Almodóvar, Ken Loach, Béla Tarr, and Wim Wenders.
The main witness for the prosecution, Gennady Afanasyev, retracted his testimony in court on 31 July, saying it was given under duress. According to the Afanasyev's lawyer, his defendant was actually tortured, including with electric current. The other main witness Oleksiy Chirnyi refused to testify in court.
A Russian court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in prison on 25 August. He was then imprisoned in Yakutsk. Sentsov initially served his sentence in the Russian federal subject Sakha Republic. In September 2017 he was reportedly transferred to Russia's northernmost prison in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. He declines visits by his family after observing that once the visitors leave other prisoners "fall into terrible deep depression". In October 2016 Russia refused to extradite Sentsov to Ukraine, claiming that he is a Russian citizen.
On July 12, 2018, one of the figurants of the "case of Oleg Sentsov", announced by the FSB in search of, Nikita Borkin, provided a detailed interview with Hromadske.TV, in which he confirmed that Sentsov had not given any arrest warrants to their group and had no relation to them.
Sentsov is serving his term in the Labytnangi Penal Colony in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the North of Russia. On 14 May 2018, he went on an open-ended hunger strike protesting the incarceration of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and demanding their release. After 145 days of the hunger strike, he ended it due to health concerns and the threat of force-feeding.
According to the Ombudsperson of Ukraine Valeriya Lutkovska, the decision of the Rostov court towards Ukrainians Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko constitutes discrimination on national origin.
On 26 June 2014, Russia's Presidential Council for Human Rights appealed to Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin to review the circumstances surrounding the arrests of Sentsov and fellow activist Oleksandr Kolchenko. A reply, posted on the council's website, stated prosecutors found "no grounds" for altering the detention of either suspect.
The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated that "the EU considers the case to be in breach of international law and elementary standards of justice."
The United States called the sentencing a "miscarriage of justice", stating that "Mr. Sentsov and Mr. Kolchenko were targeted by authorities because of their opposition to Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea." Saying that Sentsov and Kolchenko were "taken hostage on Ukrainian territory", it called upon the Russian Federation to "implement the commitments it made in signing the Minsk agreements by immediately releasing Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Nadia Savchenko, and all other remaining hostages".
The German government's special envoy for human rights and humanitarian affairs said in a statement that he was "shaken" by the severity of the sentences and urged Russia to comply with Council of Europe norms for the humane treatment of prisoners.
European directors Agnieszka Holland, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, and Pedro Almodóvar co-signed a 10 June 2014 letter by the European Film Academy to Russian authorities, demanding that the charges against Sentsov be dropped and the allegations of torture investigated. Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf dedicated his acceptance of the 2015 Robert Bresson Prize of the Venice Film Festival to Sentsov, calling the conviction a "major injustice" and the sentence "a move to intimidate all Russian society, especially the intellectuals and artists".
The European Parliament supported a resolution on the immediate release of Oleg Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners. Before the vote, all major political groups in the European Parliament, when discussing the human rights situation in Russia, called for the release of Oleg Sentsov and 158 other political prisoners held in the country. The participants of the debate stressed the need to continue the sanctions pressure on the Kremlin, and European leaders and diplomats urged not to attend the World Cup, which opens June 14 in Russia.
The Sejm of Poland adopted a resolution on 15 June 2018 demanding the release of Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia for political reasons. In the resolution deputies demand, in particular, to release Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko, and Roman Sushchenko.
Sentsov was granted the title of honorary citizen of Paris on 24 September 2018. Sentsov was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize on 25 October 2018, in a move described by The Guardian as an EU rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
|2017||The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov||cameo||documentary|
- «Купите книгу — она смешная» ("Buy the book, it is funny", 2014)
- Рассказы ("Tales". Kiev: Laurus, 2015)
- Since Ukraine lost the control over the peninsula to Russia in March 2014 the status of the Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol is under dispute between Russia and Ukraine; Ukraine and the majority of the international community consider the Crimea to be an autonomous republic of Ukraine and Sevastopol to be one of Ukraine's cities with special status, while Russia, on the other hand, considers the Crimea to be a federal subject of Russia and Sevastopol to be one of Russia's three federal cities.
- Russia is holding over 70 Ukrainian Political Prisoners of War
- List of Individuals Recognized as Political Prisoners by the Human Rights Centre Memorial and Persecuted in connection with the Realization of their Right to Freedom of Religion as of 29 October 2017
- on YouTube, documentary by Hromadske.TV
- Kramer, Andrew E. (25 October 2018). "Rights Prize Goes to Oleg Sentsov, a Russian Prisoner, in a Rebuke to Putin". The New York Times.
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- "EU rebukes Putin with human rights prize to jailed Ukrainian film-maker". The Guardian. 2018-10-25. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
- (in Dutch) Short Bio, International Film Festival Rotterdam
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- "Pardon my son": Sentsov's mother appeals to Putin, UNIAN (13 July 2018)
- "Almodovar, Leigh petition Putin on jailed Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov". Los Angeles Times. 10 June 2014.
- Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and others call for release of Ukrainian director, The Guardian (10 June 2014)
- (in Ukrainian) The Court extended the arrest in Moscow Ukrainian director, Ukrayinska Pravda (7 July 2014)
- (in Ukrainian) Oleg Sentsov: I was tortured and humiliated, Ukrayinska Pravda (7 July 2014)
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- "Ukraine crisis: Timeline". 13 November 2014 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- UN General Assembly adopts resolution affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity, China Central Television (28 March 2014)
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- For Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, a battle with no end in sight, Los Angeles Times (16 July 2014)
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- Ukraine film director Sentsov to stay in custody, Interfax-Ukraine (24.10.2014)
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- Ukrainian Filmmaker Tells Russian Court He Will "Suffer or Die" for His Beliefs. The Guardian (19 August).
- "Процесс Сенцова. Допрос Афанасьева". МедиаЗона. 2015-07-31. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- Convicted in the case about "Crimean terrorists" Afanasyev has told about tortures after his detention and pressure after his refusal to testify in court (Осужденный по делу «крымских террористов» Афанасьев рассказал о пытках после задержания и давлении после отказа от показаний в суде). Mediazona. 5 August 2015
- "Challenge Putin's Lies about imprisoned Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov". www.khpg.org. Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- Walker, Shaun. "Russian court jails Ukrainian film-maker for 20 years over terror offences". www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko are acknowledged as citizens of Ukraine, Ukraine Today (24 March 2016)
- Letter from Ukrainian film-maker Oleg Sentsov smuggled out of prison, The Guardian (12 September 2016)
- "Ukrainian Filmmaker Sentsov Reportedly To Be Transferred To Russian Far North Prison". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
- Putin on revision of Sentsov verdict: "Appropriate conditions should ripen", UNIAN (2 December 2016)
- ""Олег Сенцов не віддавав нам жодних наказів. Він був за мистецький спротив", - фігурант справи, якому вдалося втекти від ФСБ". Hromadske.radio.
- ФКУ ИК-8 УФСИН России по Ямало-Ненецкому автономному округу http://www.89.fsin.su/structural_units/ik8.php
- Grater, Tom (25 August 2018). "Oleg Sentsov 12 days into hunger strike". Screen Daily. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
- ""Вместе и до конца": режиссер Сенцов, осужденный в России на 20 лет колонии, объявил голодовку, требуя освободить 64 украинца" (in Russian). Newsru. 16 May 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
- "Ten reasons you should give a damn why Oleg Sentsov's hunger strike matters". Meduza. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- Oliver Carroll. Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov ends 145-day hunger strike in Russian jail at The Independent, 5 October 2018
- Lutkovska sees in the Sentsov's case a discrimination on national origin. Ukrinform. 4 September 2015
- Kishkovsky, Sophia (2015-08-25). "Russia Gives Ukrainian Filmmaker Oleh Sentsov a 20-Year Sentence". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "More than 60 members of the "PEN Center" signed a letter to Putin to release Ukrainian political prisoner". 112 Ukraine. December 25, 2016.
- "Ukraine film director Sentsov in 'terror' trial in Russia - BBC News". Retrieved 2015-09-08.
- ""Мемориал" считает Олега Сенцова и Александра Кольченко политзаключенными". www.memo.ru. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
- US calls on Russia to immediately release detained Ukrainian citizens Savchenko and Sentsov, Interfax Ukraine (18.10.2014)
- "European Union - EEAS (European External Action Service) | Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini on the sentencing by a Russian court of Ukrainian citizens O. Sentsov and O. Kolchenko". eeas.europa.eu. 2015-08-25. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- Controversial Trial of Ukrainian Filmmaker Closes in Russia. 2015. The Telegraph (August 19).
- Ovcharuk, Bogdan. 2015. "The System Does Not Forgive" – Crimean Activists Hauled before a Russian Military Court. Amnesty International (August 10).
- "Russian Federation: Drop terror charges against Ukrainian activists: Oleh Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko". www.amnesty.org. 2015-07-30. EUR 46/2202/2015. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "Sentencing of Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko". Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "European Film Academy: Help Us to Help Oleg Sentsov !". www.europeanfilmacademy.org. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "Mohsen Makhmalbaf voices support for imprisoned fellow director Oleg Sentsov". The Guardian. 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-09-08.
- "European Parliament Urges Russia To Release Sentsov, 'Political Prisoners'". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. June 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "European Parliament to call for release of political prisoners:". Greens/EFA. June 13, 2018. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- Roś, Edyta. "Sejm podjął uchwałę ws. uwolnienia obywateli Ukrainy więzionych z przyczyn politycznych". gazetaprawna.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- Sentsov becomes honorary citizen of Paris, Interfax-Ukraine (24 September 2018)
- Saakaov, R. "The Sentsov's film in Moscow and the fate of Crimean dissenting (Фильм Сенцова в Москве и судьба крымских «несогласных»)" BBC (Russian service), 30 October 2014
- "Process" – documentary about the court trials over Oleg Sentsov («Процесс» — документальный фильм о суде над Олегом Сенцовым). Смотрите полностью на «Медузе» Meduza, 05.2018
- Олег Сенцов. (2014-06-11). "Купите книгу – она смешная". Литературный журнал «Процесс». Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- "В Киеве пройдет читка пьесы Олега Сенцова". colta.ru. 2015-03-12.
- "В Киеве провели благотворительное чтение пьесы Олега Сенцова". Крым. Реалии. 2015-03-19.
- Sergatskova, Ye. Oleg Sentsov, a victim of terrorist action (Олег Сенцов, жертва теракта). Colta. 16 May 2014