Call for the immediate release of Oleg Sentsov [fr]
Today, on Russian soil, the FIFA World Cup 2018 has just taken place.
Today, on the same Russian soil, a filmmaker hovers between life and death.
Aged 41, a father of two, he began an indefinite hunger strike on May 14, 2018, a month before the opening of the World Cup.
His name is Oleg Sentsov.
You probably know his name, but perhaps not his story.
The Ukranian Oleg Sentsov was born in Simferopol, Crimea, where he lived with his wife and children until 11 May 2014, the day of his arrest by the FSB, the Russian secret service.
After his first critically acclaimed feature film, which won awards in many international festivals, Oleg Sentsov was preparing his second film "Rhino" when the first pro-European protests broke out in Ukraine in November 2013. A filmmaker and committed pro-European citizen, he postponed his film in order to actively participate in the Euromaidan movement. Refusing the Russian annexation of Crimea, he took to the streets and delivered food to hungry Ukrainian soldiers surrounded by pro-Russian forces. He finally decided to shoot his new feature that summer, the summer of 2014. But as he left his home on May 11 that year, Oleg Sentsov was kidnapped and tortured by the FSB for three weeks, before reappearing not in Crimea, but the depths of a Russian prison ...
Despite the protests of Oleg Sentsov, who shouted to the judges that he was not a "serf", and that they could not "annex" him as they did with his land, he was treated and tried as a Russian citizen, and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in a harsh labor camp, after a "Stalinist" trial, to cite Amnesty International.
As of 14 May 2018, Oleg Sentsov has started an indefinite hunger strike to demand the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners incarcerated like him in Russia.
If the European and international community does nothing else, Oleg Sentsov will die. His country was stolen, his nationality forcibly changed to that of his aggressors, and he was sentenced to twenty years at the bottom of an icy hole on the edge of the Arctic Circle. And Europe, the Europe he dreamed and fought for his country to join, that same Europe let him go.
If nothing happens, Oleg Sentsov will die. In his words, his life is the only weapon he has left to resist and defend the seventy Ukrainians that Putin holds hostage from their families and country for the sole reason that they do not agree with the expansionist policy he enforces with violence.
This man, who fights in the name of values that we share, can not disappear. His death would be a terrible loss for humanity and another terrible setback for Europe.
If Oleg Sentsov dies today, it is not only Vladimir Putin but France, Germany, and Europe as a whole that would be stained with his blood.
So we call on Europe and the rest of the world to use every means in their possession to obtain the immediate release of Oleg Sentsov.