Wim Wenders, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Pedro Almodóvar have joined more than a dozen other film industry figures in signing an open letter to President Vladimir Putin urging him to ensure the safety of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov who was jailed last month for his alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
The letter, organised by the European Film Academy, asks for “a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the apparently arbitrary detention by the FSB in order to bring all those responsible to justice”. Sentsov, who participated in the Euromaidan protests in Kiev, was taken from his home in Crimea and transported to Moscow by the FSB, the KGB’s successor.
Senstov stands accused of being a member of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), a right-wing Ukrainian political group, and has been charged with attempting to orchestrate a terrorist attack, a claim decried as politically motivated by his supporters. “We respectfully call upon you to ensure the safety of Oleg Sentsov; to make public the whereabouts of the detained; and to have the detained charged with a recognizable offense or released,” the open letter reads.
An online petition slating the accusations against Sentsov as “absurd and devoid of any trace of common sense” and calling for his release has gathered more than 35,000 signatures. Both the petition and the open letter come just days after the director of award-winning film Russian Ark Alexander Sokurov used the opening ceremony of Russia’s biggest film festival Kinotavr to urge the Putin to free the country’s political prisoners.