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Stellan Skarsgard is among 300 European and international filmmakers who have supported a renewed appeal to Russian president Vladimir Putin to release a Ukrainian director held on terrorism charges since May.
The new petition, organized by the European Film Academy and French Film Directors’ Guild, says that Oleg Sentsov, who was active in supporting Ukraine’s winter EuroMaidan protests, has denied any involvement in what it calls “imaginary crimes.”
Sentsov was seized from his home in Crimea in May two months after Russian forces occupied the Ukrainian peninsula that has since been absorbed into Russian Federation territory.
Held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison, used in Soviet times for KGB prisoners, Sentsov’s trial was due to begin Oct. 11, but has now been postponed to January next year, meaning he will have been detained without trail for eight months before being able to mount a defense against charges that he was involved in a terrorist plot against the Russians.
Sentsov has repeatedly denied all charges made by Russian authorities.
The fresh appeal, which follows earlier calls supported by such directors as Agnieszka Holland, Wim Wenders, Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, calls the “aggression against Sentsov … an aggression against all filmmakers, all over the world.”
Signatories also include Niels Arden Oplev (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Russian director Sergei Loznitsa (whose documentary about the Ukrainian protests, Maidan, was screened in Cannes this year), French director Bertrand Tavernier and British filmmaker David Mackenzie. They are asked to repeat a statement about Sentsov’s case in their every public utterance “so that from now on there will not be a day, not even an hour, without these sentences being repeated and heard about the noise of the world.”
Sentsov’s case has attracted widespread attention and even moved Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov, who supports Russia’s seizure of Crimea, to demand the Ukrainian director’s release.
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