Free Ukrainian Activists at Risk of Torture

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Target: Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika, Prosecutor General

Goal: Release two activists accused of terrorism on flimsy evidence.

Two Ukrainian activists have been arrested by Russian forces on suspicion of terrorism. The evidence against them is tenuous at best and their case has been characterized by violations of international fair trial standards and allegations of torture. Sign the petition and demand their immediate release.

Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko are accused of participating in acts of terrorism, including setting fire to the Ukrainian Party of the Regions and attempting to blow up a statue of Lenin and the Eternal Flame monument in Crimea’s capital. The men deny all the charges, and Amnesty International calls the terrorism charge “excessive.” The main evidence against them comes from three witnesses, two of whom now refuse to testify, claiming that they were coerced into implicating others in exchange for lighter sentences. The third witness is a police informant.

The men are being tried in a military court in a remote location. The room in which the trial is being held is too small to hold all the international human rights observers present, who have been forced to rotate in and out of the room in shifts.

Both men were denied access to lawyers for four days following their relocation from Crimea to Moscow, and Sentsov alleges that he was tortured following his arrest.

Sentsov and Kolchenko have the right to a fair trial and the right to be guaranteed safety from torture and ill-treatment. Sign the petition and demand that Russian authorities either charge the men appropriately and ensure that their rights are respected or release them immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prosecutor General,

I am writing to demand justice for Oleg Sentsov and Aleksandr Kolchenko, two Ukrainian men accused of terrorism, a charge Amnesty International has termed “excessive.” Their trial has been marked by a number of fair trial violations and there have been allegations of torture. Either release the men immediately or charge them more appropriately, and ensure that their safety and human rights are respected.

The men are being tried in an incredibly small military courtroom in a remote location, which makes it difficult for international human rights organizations to monitor the trial. The main evidence against them comes from three witnesses, two of whom now refuse to testify, claiming that they were offered reduced sentences in exchange for implicating Sentsov and Kolchenko and forced into accusing them of the crimes.

In addition, the men were denied access to their Russian lawyers for four days following their relocation from Ukraine to Russia. Sentsov has also alleged that he was tortured following his arrest.

International fair trial and human rights standards guarantee defendants the right to access a lawyer and to be safe from torture and ill-treatment. Sentsov and Kolchenko’s rights have been sadly neglected in this case, but it is not too late to fix things. Drop the terrorism charges against the men and either charge them with appropriate, internationally-recognizable criminal offenses or release them immediately. In the meantime, ensure that they have access to their lawyers and are safe from torture and ill-treatment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy

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