EU calls on Russia to release Sentsov and all Ukrainian political prisoners

At the weekly vigil in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin to free Ukrainian political prisoners. Photo: Maria Ustaneko 

Political prisoners

The EU considers Russia’s case against the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov a violation of international law and elementary standards of justice and expects his release along will all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and occupied Crimea. This is stated in a statement by an EU spokesperson published by the European Union external action service.

The statement says that Sentsov has shown incredible courage, determination, and selflessness during his 145 days of hunger strike.

“His health has now deteriorated to a critical state. In refusing to provide him with appropriate medical treatment in an institutionalized medical setting, the authorities of the Russian Federation have violated his human rights as well as their own human rights commitments under international law, namely the European Court of Human Rights interim measure of 25 July this year,” the statement says.

Sentsov had started his hunger strike on 14 May 2018, demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin. There are at least 70 such prisoners. On 6 October, in light of imminent force-feeding, Sentsov stopped the strike, having lost 20 kg.

“The European Union stands in solidarity with Oleg Sentsov and, in addition to swift and appropriate medical treatment, expects his immediate release, along with all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens in Russia and on the Crimean peninsula. International human rights standards on the peninsula must be upheld,” the EU statement says.

Sentsov, a native of Crimea, was arrested in May 2014 shortly after the Russian occupation of Crimea, and accused of terrorism in a case compared to Stalinist show trials by Russian and Ukrainian human rights watchdogs. Governments, film associations, and human rights organizations around the world have called for his release.

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