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The Daily Vertical: Operation Sentsov (Transcript)


A lot has happened in the past three years. But Oleh Sentsov hasn't been able to experience any of it.

Because three years ago this month, FSB agents seized the acclaimed Ukrainian filmmaker from a street in Simferopol, the capital of Russian-occupied Crimea.

They threw a bag over his head, interrogated him, transported him to Russia, charged him with terrorism in a bizarre Soviet-style show trial, and sentenced him to twenty years in a Siberian prison colony.

The case against Sentsov and his co-defendant Oleksandr Kolchenko was designed to send a message to anybody who dares oppose Moscow's occupation of Crimea.

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For three years, Sentsov has effectively been a Russian hostage.

But he's also been more than that.

His case was also part of an elaborate Kremlin propaganda campaign to legitimize its illegal seizure of Crimea.

Sentsov was tried as a Russian citizen, which means that Vladimir Putin's regime stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship against his will.

He was tried and incarcerated in Russia, even though he was apprehended in Crimea, which according to international law remains Ukrainian territory.

And by charging him with plotting terrorist acts, the Kremlin sought to legitimize the fiction that it seized Crimea to protect ethnic Russians.

The Sentsov case was Moscow's way of showing the world that the annexation of Crimea was a fait accompli.

It was an attempt to prove that Russia could seize not only Ukraine's territory, but its prominent citizens and their citizenship as well.

And it was a message that all the fairy-tales the seizure of Crimea was based upon, would be treated as self-evident facts.

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