August 25, 2015 – Ottawa – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) strongly condemns the verdict and sentencing handed down today in Russia’s show trial of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov and Ukrainian activist Oleksandr Kolchenko.
A Russian court in Rostov-on-Don, ignoring all evidence exonerating the two men, found guilty and sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in prison and Kolchenko to 10 years in prison on fabricated charges. The “verdict” was reached despite the fact that there is no credible evidence against either man, and in spite of the fact that key prosecution witness, (Gennady Afanasyev) recanted his testimony in court, and stated that the evidence he gave was obtained under torture.
Sentsov and Kolchenko, Ukrainian citizens, were illegally abducted by the Russian security service following Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea. Russia has neither the jurisdiction nor the authority to detain, try, or sentence them. Russian investigators also ignored credible evidence of the torture of Sentsov and prosecution witness Afanasyev by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
The Sentsov/Kolchenko “verdict” and sentencing continue the Soviet tradition of convicting and condemning to long sentences innocent people whose only “crime” is to resist the tyranny of the regime and to stand for the principles of truth and justice.
Sentsov and Kolchenko have shown remarkable bravery and strength. Imprisoned for over a year, they have not been broken, despite torture and pressure by Russian authorities. After the sentences were announced, the two men, in an act of courageous defiance, sang Ukraine’s national anthem.
“The Sentsov/Kolchenko trial is a further example of the lawlessness into which Russia has descended under Putin. Russia continues it war against Ukraine, and continues to illegally imprison those who oppose this aggression,” stated Paul Grod, National President of the UCC. “Today’s verdict illustrates the contempt for human rights and the rule of law that has become the hallmark of Putin’s regime. This was not justice – this was a Stalinist show trial.”
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress calls on Canada and her allies condemn this travesty and to use their international influence to ensure the immediate release of Sentsov, Kolchenko, MP Nadiya Savchenko, and other Ukrainian political prisoners currently illegally imprisoned by Russia. The UCC further calls on Canada and her allies to institute sanctions against those Russian officials responsible for their imprisonment.