Accessibility links

Breaking News

Imprisoned Ukrainian Filmmaker Sentsov 'Ready To Ask For Clemency' From Putin

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov (file photo)

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who opposed Moscow's seizure of Crimea and is now in prison in Russia, is "ready to ask for clemency" in order to be exchanged for Russian nationals held in Ukraine, his lawyer says.

Dmitry Dinze told RFE/RL on March 12 that writing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask for a pardon "is the only way to make sure that he will be exchanged" for Russians or Russia-backed separatists held by Kyiv.

"You either write [to Putin] and go, or remain behind bars," Dinze said, adding that it is a condition that must be met to qualify as part of an exchange of captives.

Sentsov, a native of Crimea who opposed Russia's seizure and annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014, is serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted on terrorism charges that he and human rights groups contend are politically motivated.

Sentsov 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.