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The lawyer of Ukrainian political prisoner Alexander Kolchenko, Andriy Lepekhin believes that the Russian authorities are trying to pass Ukrainian political prisoners off as the terrorists. In his opinion, this is the only way to understand the information that the alleged accusation against Oleg Sentsov was based in part on the testimony of Gennadiy Afanasyev.
"The thing is that when dealing with the administration of the colony, we see that they have one position: "these are terrorists, why do you come here and help those terrorists?" This is an attempt to pass Ukrainian political prisoners off as terrorists," said Lepekhin.
May this year marked the fourth anniversary of the arrest of the so-called “Crimean Four.” Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko and two other Crimean citizens - Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksiy Chyrniy – were seized by the Russian FSB in May 2014. According to the FSB, the group was going to organize a series of terrorist attacks in major cities of Crimea: Simferopol, Yalta, and Sevastopol. In particular, Russian security claimed that the “terrorist cell” planned to blow up a monument to Vladimir Lenin and the Eternal Flame Memorial, as well as to set on fire a number of United Russia party offices.
Neither Sentsov nor Kolchenko pleaded guilty to the charges calling the latter absurd and politically motivated. The evidence provided by the prosecution is largely based on the testimony of two other defendants in the case, Gennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chirniy who had copped a plea bargain and admitted their guilt.
Afanasyev and Chirniy initially gave “confessions” under torture, and agreed to "cooperate" with the investigators. Both received minimum 7-year sentences in separate trials. Later in court, Afanasyev found the courage to refuse to obey the FSB’s orders and to stand up and state that all previous testimony had been untrue and extracted through torture. Sentsov had, from the outset, described the torture that he was subjected to, but had withstood.
Gennady Afanasyev returned to Ukraine from the Russian imprisonment on June 14, 2016. He was exchanged for Odesites - media representatives - Olena Glischynskay and Vitaly Didenko, who were accused of separatism. As early as 2015, Afanasyev's lawyers stated that he had testified against Sentsov after he had been tortured with a gas mask and current. Afanasyev later refused these testimonies.
In October 2016, Afanasyev became Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Klimkin. State Administration of Affairs at the President of Ukraine has allocated Afanasyev an apartment in Kyiv. The ECHR ordered Russian Federation to pay ex-political prisoner Afanasiev 2 thousand euros.
Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Russia. May 14, he announced an indefinite hunger strike demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian jails.