Oleg Sentsov dismisses Russia's terrorism charges as 'fabricated'

Ukrainian filmmaker was in Barcelona for EU event but preferred to leave opinions about jailed Catalan independence leaders to NGOs

The Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov (by Alan Ruiz Terol)
The Ukranian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov (by Alan Ruiz Terol) / Neil Stokes

Neil Stokes | Barcelona

November 18, 2019 06:51 PM

Ukrainian filmmaker, Oleg Sentsov, said the accusations by the Russian authorities that he plotted terrorism acts, which saw him sentenced to 20 years in prison, were "fabricated."

Awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize last year, Sentsov was in Barcelona on Monday for an informative breakfast organized by the EU chamber.

The director and opponent of the Putin regime explained that he was tortured after his arrest in 2014, but that the physical abuse ended thanks to international pressure.

"They were scared to touch me, but the psychological pressure was very intense," said Sentsov, who the EU called "a symbol of the struggle of political prisoners in Russia."

Arrested and tortured 

After Russia annexed Crimea, armed men broke into Sentsov's home and arrested him. He was then tortured to make him confess to belonging to a Ukrainian terrorist organization.

Despite the physical abuse, he refused. "The Russian authorities hate Ukraine and they saw me as its personification," he said on Monday.

Released in a prisoner swap in September, Sentsov insisted that "Putin is not eternal; he can die or his collaborators or the people can remove him from power." 

However, the filmmaker also said that "until he [Putin] leaves Ukraine, the problems in Crimea or Donbass cannot be resolved."

Jailed independence leaders

Sentsov avoided journalists questions about whether he would compare his situation with that of the Catalan pro-independence leaders recently jailed by Spain.

"I won't get involved in the affairs of another country, because we still have to solve our own," said Sentsov, who added that such questions are for human rights organizations.

"People who are in prison for protesting against the government are political prisoners, but it depends on what the NGOs say about this case," he added.