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Poroshenko hopes Moscow will be pressured into revising sentence against Ukraine filmmaker

August 25, 2015, 21:13 UTC+3

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Russia

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© Mikhail Palinchak/TASS

KIEV, August 25 /TASS/. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russian verdict on Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov as unfair, the presidential press service said.

"Ukraine considers the sentence which was passed on filmmaker Oleg Sentsov in Russia today as unfair," the press service said in its statement.

Poroshenko hopes that external pressure on Russia will ultimately force it to revise the sentence.

"I am sure the effective steps of the Ukrainian authorities and the global coalition which we have managed to forge to support Ukraine will result in the release of Nadezhda Savchenko [who stays in a pre-trial detention center in Russia on suspicion of involvement in the murder of two Russian journalists near Luhansk last year] and Oleg Sentsov who will be able to return home like heroes," Poroshenko stressed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry protested against the conviction of Oleg Sentsov and his accomplice Alexander Kolchenko and demanded their immediate release.

The North Caucasus District Military Court on Tuesday found Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorist attacks in Crimea and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

His accomplice Alexander Kolchenko got ten years in prison.

Ukraine’s Consul Alexander Kovtun and Ukraine’s General Consul in Rostov-on-Don Vitaly Moskalenko were present in the courtroom. Upon hearing the verdict, Sentsov and Kolchenko started singing Ukraine’s national anthem. Representatives of the Ukrainian consulate rose from their seats.

Sentsov’s defense lawyers have said they are going to appeal the verdict, lawyer Dmitry Dinze told journalists.

"It is the height of injustice and arbitrary rule. All materials provided by the council for the defense proved that Oleg Sentsov was practically innocent. A small episode when he just held weapons in his hands does not mean that it really belonged to him," Dinze went on to say.

"We do not think that the Supreme Court is going to change anything. Perhaps, they are going to reduce his sentence by two years. Naturally, we are going to demand that Sentsov and Kolchenko serve their prison terms in Ukraine. But it’s going to be hard because the court considers them to be Russian citizens," Dinze explained. The probability that Sentsov and Kolchenko could be exchanged for someone is fifty-fifty in his view.

According to investigators, Sentsov set up in Crimea a terrorist group, which set two offices on fire in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, in the spring of 2014 and was planning to blow up a statue of Bolshevik revolution leader Vladimir Lenin.

Sentsov and Kolchenko pleaded not guilty and said the charges were politicized.

Prosecutors had sought a term of 23 years for Sentsov and 12 years for Kolchenko.

The other two accomplices - Gennady Afansyev and Alexey Chirniy - got 7 years in jail (each).

Kremlin Administration Chief Sergey Ivanov refused to comment on Sentsov’s sentence.

"I do not know him and I never comment on issues related to justice," Ivanov told journalists. He added he had heard about some verdict.

"But tens of thousands of verdicts are brought about in Russia every day. The most important thing is that I never comment on these sentences. This matter is in the competence of court and justice, which is a separate branch of power," Ivanov concluded.

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