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Fifth Anniversary Of Sentsov's Arrest Marked In Ukraine

Oleh Sentsov is serving a 20-year prison sentence
Oleh Sentsov is serving a 20-year prison sentence

Activists in Ukraine have marked the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who is serving a 20-year prison term in Russia on charges of terrorism that have been criticized by human rights groups and Western governments as politically motivated.

Activists in black clothes, with their mouths taped and hands chained, marched in Kyiv, on May 10, stopping at 14 embassies of Western countries.

The activists also wore signs saying "Activist, Not a Terrorist," "Dentist, Not a Terrorist," "Historian, Not a Terrorist," etc., and carried a banner reading: "Do You Remember?"

The activists called their demonstrations Save Sentsov and said they wanted to raise awareness among foreign politicians about the incarceration of Sentsov and many other Ukrainians by Russia on politically motivated charges.

Sentsov, a Crimean native who opposed Russia's 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, was arrested by the Moscow-imposed Crimean authorities on May 11, 2014, and charged with planning the fire-bombing of pro-Russian organizations in Crimea.

A Russian court convicted him on multiple terrorism charges on August 25, 2015, and sentenced him to 20 years in a maximum-security prison.

Human rights activists and Western governments have called on Russia’s authorities to release the film director, saying his arrest and trial were politically motivated.

Imprisoned in Russia's Far Northern Yamalo-Nenets region, Sentsov held a 145-day hunger strike last year, demanding that Russia release 64 fellow Ukrainians he considered political prisoners.

He ended his protest in early October, saying it was necessary to avoid being force-fed by prison authorities.

Also, on May 10, artists, scientists, and coordinators of the #SaveSentsov action planted dozens of flowers in Kyiv's Kreshchatyy Park. Next to each flower, they placed a small sign with a name of a Ukrainian national currently in Russian custody.

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