The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (26 November) on the sentences handed down to Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko, which were upheld by the Russian Supreme Court on 24 November:
I was greatly shocked to learn that the disproportionately heavy sentence handed down to Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko has been upheld by the Russian Supreme Court. This sentence runs contrary to the Federal Government’s expectations that proceedings be in line with Russia’s human rights obligations as a member of the Council of Europe.
In particular, allegations that depositions were obtained at this trial through torture and ill‑treatment should have been fully investigated and clarified. I therefore wish to reiterate my call for a comprehensive investigation into these allegations. I call on the Russian Government to lift these sentences and to release Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko with immediate effect.
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. On 25 August 2015, Sentsov and Kolchenko were sentenced to twenty years and ten years respectively in a harsh regime prison camp on charges of organising “terrorist attacks” in Crimea. This sentence was upheld in appeal proceedings by the Russian Supreme Court on 24 November. According to reports, testimonies were obtained at this trial through ill‑treatment and torture.