Target: Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Goal: Release two activists imprisoned on terrorism charges for opposing the Russian takeover of Crimea.
Two Ukrainian activists have been handed down lengthy prison sentences for their roles in opposing the violent Russian takeover of the Crimean Peninsula. Filmmaker Oleg Sensov and prominent activist Alexander Kolchenko were both convicted of terrorism-related charges, which they say are unfounded and unjust. During their detention in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison, the men reported being tortured and denied any contact with their families or Ukrainian officials.
Oleg Sensov was arrested in his native Crimea in May of 2014, at the height of Ukrainian-Russian conflict. He was accused of setting fire to several administrative buildings as well as attempting to blow up a statue of Vladimir Lenin, and was transported to the Russian capital to face trial. Both men were found guilty of terrorist charges, with Sensov sentenced to 20 years in prison and Kolchenko sentenced to 10, despite two of the prosecution’s three witnesses admitting to being coerced into their original statements by police.
Several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have spoken out about the charges, which are considered to be politically-motivated. According to British Minister for Europe David Lidington, the men were denied a fair and unbiased trial. Both men in question have been described by United Stated officials as “Russian-held hostages.”
Particularly considering the conditions of their capture and detention and the unfair nature of their trial, it is clear that Russia is not focused on a proper trial, but rather silencing political opponents. In order to prevent further mistreatment and torture of these two men, it is imperative that they be returned to their native country of Ukraine. Sign the petition below to demand the immediate release of Oleg Sensov and Alexander Kolchenko.
Dear President Vladimir Putin,
Two Ukrainian activists were recently found guilty of trumped-up terrorism charges during a trial where two major witnesses admitted to being coerced into testifying against the accused. Oleg Sensov and Alexander Kolchenko were sentenced to 20 and 10 years respectively, to be served in a maximum security prison where they are likely to face further torture and mistreatment at the hands of officials.
It is clear that Russian officials have made no effort to keep the trial fair, and are instead only interested in keeping dissenters under control. This is a clear breach of international human rights laws, and should be ceased immediately. We, the undersigned, demand the release of Oleg Sensov and Alexander Kolchenko to their home country of Ukraine.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Zaid Hamid