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Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov released from prison

13 September 2019
Oleg Sentsov smiling
Image: Oleg Sentsov / Twitter

After five years in a Russian prison, Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has finally been released in a prisoner exchange between Ukrainian and Russian governments.

Freemuse has extensively covered Sentsov’s case since his May 2014 arrest and welcomes the news.

“Artists are increasingly being targeted for their political expressions, whether through their art or everyday actions. Regardless of how they choose to express themselves, it is their internationally, legally protected human right to be able to do so. Oleg Sentsov must be freed,” Dr Srirak Plipat, Freemuse Executive Director, said at the time of his arrest.

The filmmaker was sentenced to a 20-year prison sentence on so-called ‘terrorism’ charges after taking part in a protest against Russia’s annexation of Crimea (in the latter region). A Russian military court handed down the sentence and later transported the artist to the Polar Bear prison colony No. 8 in Labytnangi where he would serve five years of his sentence.

Sentsov’s incarceration period has been marked by global support and personal activism, with the artist going on a 145-day hunger strike in early 2018. The #saveolegsentsov campaign reached across the globe in 54 different cities, calling for Sentsov’s release.

Now, this call has been answered.

With the global artistic community, Freemuse celebrates the artist’s release and calls on EU institutions to apply vigilance to the threats to artistic freedom in Europe. 

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