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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 519
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Film Director On Trial In Russia for 'Terrorism' Charges
5 years
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Ukrainian film director Sentsov went on trial today in Russia on charges of "terrorism" which his defense attorneys and colleagues say are fabrications in retaliation for his vocal protest against the annexation of Crimea, Deutsche Welle reported.

Sentsov pleaded not guilty, saying the trial was unjust.

Sentsov, 39, was arrested last May two months after the Russian occupation and charged with collaborating with the ultrarightist group Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor) to carry out attacks on pro-Moscow organizations. He faces up to 20 years of imprisonment if found guilty. Said Deutsche Welle:
Sentsov, who directed the film "Gamer," has been in jail for more than a year. His defense team describes the arrest as a kidnapping, and the case against the Crimean native as revenge for his pro-Ukrainian views.

A lawyer for the director told news agency AFP on Tuesday that he didn't hold much hope his client would get a fair trial, saying the best-case scenario would likely be for Sentsov to be sent back to Ukraine as part of a prisoner swap deal.

"I think the result will be negative. No one will acquit anyone, no one will change any charges," lawyer Dmitry Dinze said. "We hope that when all the procedures are done, Sentsov will be exchanged for some other people in Ukraine who are important to Russia."

Recently, Right Sector has been in the news for a shoot-out with police in Mukhachevo in which their fighters shot dead a guard and wounded police and civilians, but in Sentsov's case, no evidence for violence has been presented.

Ukrainska Pravda, citing Snob, reported today that Sentsov complained of torture by the FSB.  His attorney, Dmitry Dinze, did not say when and where the torture had occurred while his client was in the FSB's custody.

The trial was partly closed as Ukrainska Pravda reported earlier.

Three pages of the charges against Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko, his co-defendant, are to be shown in closed session, and the rest in open session, said his attorney.

Supporters were not allowed into the court room, including the lay public defenders usually permitted in the Ukrainian court system. Only relatives are permitted to attend, a concession achieved after attorneys petitioned the court.

Press was not allowed in the courtroom either, and reporters were only allowed to watch a live feed in a separate room.

Two other co-defendants, Gennady Afanasyev and Aleksei Chirniy, have already been sentenced to 7 years of prison, considered a lighter sentence after they gave testimony against Sentsov and Kolchenko.

- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick