The crackdown on free speech continued in Russia this week with the sentencing of a leading critic of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was given 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror attacks. Critics have denounced the case as a sham prosecution of a critic and compared the move (like so many under Vladimir Putin) as a return to Soviet-style trials for critics.
The Russians accused Sentsov of creating a terror cell in the Crimean Peninsula and was plotting attacks. Britain and other nations do not buy it and have criticized the case.
Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko (who was given 10 years) have been detained since May 2014. Sentsov was snatched off the street in the Crimea capital in May 2014 and then surfaced in Moscow to face charges. He has challenged the jurisdiction of the court to try him.
Sentsov, 39, was the victim of torture according to his supporters who pointed out bruises on this body. Russian police insisted that those bruises were the result of his love for sadomasochistic sex. At the trial, the main prosecution witness recanted said his evidence had been extorted under torture.
Sentsov remained defiant in court: “When they put a bag on your head, beat you up a bit, half an hour later you’re ready to go back on all your beliefs, implicate yourself in whatever they ask, implicate others, just to stop them beating you. I don’t know what your beliefs can possibly be worth if you are not ready to suffer or die for them. . . . I am not going to beg for leniency. Everything is already clear. A court of occupiers cannot be just by definition.”