Sentsov Condemns Russian Delegation Return to PACE
The former Russian-held political prisoner spoke during a discussion at the PACE meeting
Photo from Ukrinform-UATV
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, liberated after the grand diplomatic affair to swap political prisoners between Ukraine and Russia, condemned PACE for allowing the unconditional return of the Russian delegation, considering that many Ukrainian political prisoners are still being held in Russian prisons, Ukrinform reported.
The former Kremlin prisoner spoke during a discussion at PACE about challenges by authoritarian regimes to international mechanisms for defending human rights.
“Most Ukrainians, and me personally, do not welcome this step [the return of the Russian delegation to PACE]. Because the Russian side did not fulfill the conditions for this, including the implementation of relevant resolutions and recommendations. Now the Russians consider this a victory, that they returned here without any efforts, and continue working as if nothing had happened. I hope this is not the case. We have not forgotten anything. Let’s see what happens next,” Sentsov said.
He mentioned that Russia detention facilities still hold not fewer than 86 Ukrainian citizens captive.
“The aggression against my country goes on. Crimea and Donbas remain occupied. At least 86 Ukrainians, mainly Crimean Tatars, are held in Russia. In addition, at least 227 people are in prisons of the occupied Donbas, controlled by Russia,” he said.
Sentsov expressed hope that the Council of Europe would contribute to the release of Ukrainian political prisoners illegally held by Russia.
Film director Oleh Sentsov and activist Oleksandr Kolchenko were illegally detained by Russian special forces in Crimea in May, 2014 on fake charges of organizing terrorist attacks on the occupied peninsula.
On September 7, 2019, an exchange of prisoners in the 35 by 35 format took place between Ukraine and Russia. 11 political prisoners returned to Ukraine, including Sentsov and Kolchenko, as well as 24 military sailors captured by Russia in November 2018 in the area of the Kerch Strait.
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