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Global Protests Plan To Show 'Red Card' To Putin Over Imprisoned Filmmaker Sentsov


Global Protests For Release Of Ukrainian Director Held By Russia
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WATCH: Global Protests For Release Of Ukrainian Director Held By Russia

A global campaign to demand the release of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov is being organized on June 1-2.

Sentsov opposed Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and is now on hunger strike in a Russian prison.

The #SaveOlegSentsov campaign is organized by the Save Oleg Sentsov group ahead of this summer’s World Cup soccer competition in Russia.

The group announced the campaign on Twitter on May 22.

Sentsov, who is a native of Crimea, is currently serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted on terrorism charges that he and human rights groups say were politically motivated.

"In different cities around the world, we will show a red card to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's regime, which illegally holds people behind bars,” the group said.

Sentsov, who is being held in the Far Northern Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, said he began a hunger strike on May 14.

He is demanding the release of 64 Ukrainian citizens that he considers to be political prisoners in Russia.

Politician and media star Ksenia Sobchak told Current Time TV, the Russian language TV network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, that she spoke to Sentsov in a video call on May 31 and tried to persuade him to stop his hunger strike, but he refused.

"'I am not interested in the exchange. I made a decision. I thought about it for a long time. I am the person who is going to the end,'" Sobchak quoted Sentsov as saying.

"He looks very bad. He is very thin. His cheeks are pale, pale. But [he was] very confident in his decision," Sobchak told Current Time TV.

Sentsov, 41, was arrested in May 2014 on suspicion of planning fire-bombings of pro-Russian organizations in Crimea. A Russian court convicted him on multiple terrorism charges in August 2014.

Sentsov has denied all charges against him, saying that a "trial by occupiers cannot be fair by definition."

The prominent Russian human rights group Memorial has recognized Sentsov as a political prisoner, and international rights organizations have called for his release.

Volodymyr Balukh, a pro-Kyiv activist imprisoned by Russian authorities in Crimea in another politically charged case, has been on a hunger strike for nearly two months.

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