Putin spurns appeal to free imprisoned Ukrainian director

Putin spurns appeal to free imprisoned Ukrainian director
Still from The Gamer, dir. Oleg Sentsov (2012)

5 December 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected a plea to free jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Russian court in August 2015, accused of plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.

Russian director Alexander Sokurov, known for such films as Russian Ark (2002), had asked the President to free Sentsov during a meeting of the Presidential Council on Culture and Art. He dubbed the Ukrainian director an “emotional and simple young man who could not understand the intricacies of [the Ukrainian] conflict”.

Mr Putin affirmed that such decisions must be taken by the courts.

“We live in a law-based society in which these kinds of questions must be resolved by the legal system,” he stated.

Sentsov was arrested in May 2014. He is accused of setting up a terrorist group and plotting attacks on infrastructure and pro-Russian groups. In particular, prosecutors say he was involved in two attempted arson attacks in the Crimean city of Simferopol, ordered by Ukrainian nationalist group Right Sector. A number of significant figures in the filmmaking community have come out in support of the director, including Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who dedicated his Robert Bresson Award at the Venice Film Festival to Sentsov.

Source: The Moscow Times