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Russia sentences Ukrainian filmmaker to 20 years in prison

It is being reported on August 25, 2015 that a Ukrainian filmmaker, Oleg Sentsov, who was opposed Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.  “The 39-year-old Crimean native was tried along with Crimean activist Alexander Kolchenko, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.”

After moving into Crimea, Russia forced the Ukrainian natives to apply for Russian citizenship.  “Sentsov was a vocal opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. Critics have dismissed his prosecution by Russia as retaliation for his pro-Ukrainian position.”

International rights groups that observed the trial were shocked by the use of torture to extract testimony.  Russian prosecutors accused Sentsov and Kolchenko of terrorism, claiming they were planning to blow up a Lenin monument and started fires in buildings that housed Russian offices.

The United States has condemned the sentences.  State Department spokesman John Kirby stated that this sentencing was a “clear miscarriage of justice.”  He added, “Both Ukrainians were taken hostage on Ukrainian territory, transported to and imprisoned in Russia, and had Russian citizenship imposed on them against their wills. They have reported abuses by Russian authorities who also restricted their access to lawyers, family, and others while in jail for more than a year.”

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