Oleg Sentsov first came to the attention of the international film world when he triumphed with his film Gaamer (Gamer) at the 2012 Rotterdam Film Festival. With the cruelty only hindsight can bring, Gaamer screened in the ‘Bright Future’ section of the festival, which aims to draw attention to idiosyncratic and talented newcomers.
The ‘bright future’ that Sentsov is looking at now involves a 20-year stretch in a Russian prison, condemned as traitor and terrorist. Sentsov was arrested by the Russian security services at home in Simferopol on 11 May 2014, and brought to Moscow where he is detained and awaiting trial on charges of terrorism. Though Ukrainian, of Crimean origin, the investigating authorities of the Russian Federation do not recognise Sentsov’s Ukrainian citizenship. In line with the March 2014 law on the assimilation of Crimea, Russia required any permanent resident of Crimea who held Ukrainian citizenship to declare their intentions of maintaining Ukrainian citizenship. The deadline for this process was April 18, after which all Ukrainian passport holders who resided in Crimea were deemed Russian citizens.
So Oleg not only languishes in a Russian jail, he languishes there deprived of his rights as a Ukrainian citizen, deprived of visits from diplomats of his country, and categorised as a Russian national who has betrayed his own country.
Sign the petition demanding the release of Oleg Sentsov.