The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement on the sentences handed down to Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko by a military court in Russia on 25 August:
A military court in Russia has sentenced Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko today. Sentsov is a Ukrainian citizen who was arrested by Russian security forces in Simferopol on 10 May 2014 after the illegal annexation of Crimea. He has been given a 20‑year prison sentence, while his codefendant Kolchenko faces ten years’ imprisonment.
I am shocked by the long sentences that Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko have received, as well as by reports according to which statements were obtained through torture and ill-treatment. I call on the authorities in Russia to investigate and get to the bottom of these allegations with the utmost urgency.
Moreover, I expect Russia to respect Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko’s rights. As a member of the Council of Europe, Russia must abide by its commitment to observe international human rights standards.
Oleg Sentsov, film director, actor and activist in the Maidan protests in Kyiv, was arrested at his home in Simferopol, Crimea, on 10 May 2014. Sentsov is one of the most prominent opponents of the illegal annexation of Crimea. Since 21 July, Sentsov has been on trial in Russia for alleged “terrorist attacks”, planning “acts of sabotage” in Crimea and membership of the Right Sector party. Also accused is activist Alexander Kolchenko. There are reports according to which statements were obtained in these proceedings under pressure or torture. The sentences handed down today may be contested.