Protesters Rally Outside Russian Embassy Demanding Release Of Ukrainian Film MakerČTK
Prague, Aug 28 (CTK) – A crowd of around 60 demonstrators silently and slowly went past the Russian embassy in Prague today, asking for the release of Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director, and other political prisoners in Russia, from prison.
In 2015, Russian courts sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in prison for terrorism in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula which Russia annexed in March 2014.
He pleads not guilty and rejects the charges as fabricated by means of false evidence.He has been on a hunger strike for 107 days.
The protest march lasted exactly 107 minutes. The protesters inserted an open letter with messages in the letterbox at the embassy.
The demonstrators met before the entry to the consular department of the embassy where they put Sentsov’s photos on their heads. They were holding the posters saying “Free Sentsov” and “Save Oleh Sentsov.”
Marching very slowly, they went round the embassy compound and stopped before the main entrance. They were standing silently before it for 20 minutes. Each minute of the protest was a symbol of one day of Sentsov’s hunger strike.
“We were looking for a different form of protest than usual. We judged that many words were uttered, but there have been few deeds,” protest organiser Martin Janda said.
A number of countries, including the USA, France and the whole of EU, have asked Russia to release Sentsov. The appeal was also joined by the Czech Foreign Ministry.
According to some information, Sentsov’s health condition has been deteriorating. The Russian authorities, nevertheless, have dismissed any deterioration in this respect.
Sentsov is also strongly supported by film makers. Letters for him have been sent to the Kremlin by directors Pedro Almodovar, Wim Wenders, Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Zanussi, Aki Kaurismaki and Andrzej Wajda as well as actors Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep.
The Czech Film and Television Academy (CFTA) has joined the efforts of the European Film Academy and recognised August 14 as the Oleh Sentsov Day.
Several Czech film makers started a chain hunger strike in support of Sentsov on August 21. The campaign was launched by the film makers’ association (ARAS).