Famous U.S. writers, directors and public activists turned to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking him to raise the issue of Oleg Sentsov’s release during his talks with Russia’s top officials. The respective appeal was signed by 85 artists and published at the official web page of PEN America; last month, the organization granted Sentsov Barbara Goldsmith’s Freedom to Write prize.
‘Dear Mr. Secretary, as writers, artists, directors, and producers, we join PEN America to protest the groundless imprisonment of our colleague, Ukrainian writer, filmmaker, and activist Oleg Sentsov, and request that you advocate with your Russian counterparts for his immediate release,’ the artists wrote.
‘President Putin himself has rejected calls for Mr. Sentsov’s release, maintaining that he was not convicted for his art or opinions, but because he had “dedicated his life to terrorist activities.” (…) his best-known instance of activism is supplying food and medicine to Ukrainian soldiers blockaded in bases by the Russian military during the Crimean crisis in 2014,’ the petition goes on.
Those who signed the document underline that ‘Sentsov has shown unflinching courage in the face of brutal treatment’.
‘A multitude of Russian artists and writers have come to his defense; it is critical that we join them to raise our voices to protect the values of freedom of speech, including the right to dissent. In your ongoing discussions with Russian officials, we urge you to raise Oleg Sentsov’s case, and to advocate for his immediate release,’ the petition concludes.
Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainain moviemaker was detained by Russia's FSB in Crimea in May 2014 and charged with preparation of terrorist acts. In August 20, the court in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, sentenced the Ukrainian to 20 years of imprisonment. Ukraine insists his detention and imprisonment is another political case fabricated by the Kremlin.