The mother of film director Oleg Sentsov, imprisoned in Russia on terrorism charges, has asked President Vladimir Putin to pardon her son.
Lyudmila Sentsov’s appeal to Putin was published on the website of Russian independent radio station Ekho Moskvy. The letter was written on June 22, 2018.
“All mothers love their children and want freedom and happiness for them,” Sentsova wrote. “It is difficult for me to judge the degree of my own son’s guilt. However, I know him as a peaceful citizen and a person enthusiastic about his profession: film director.”
“I won’t try to convince you of Oleg’s innocence, although I believe (he is not guilty),” she continued. “I will simply say that he did not kill anyone. He has already spent four years in prison. His children are waiting for him.”
Sentsova noted that Oleg Sentsov’s youngest son has autism and his children “will never be happy without a father.”
She concluded the message by asking Putin to “show mercy and pardon Oleg Sentsov, and not ruin his life and the life of his family. We are waiting for him at home.”
A supporter of Ukraine’s EuroMaidan Revolution, Sentsov was arrested in Crimea in May 2014. He became one of four Ukrainian citizens the Russia authorities accused of plotting terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure in the Crimean peninsula, which Russia occupied and annexed earlier that year.
In August 2015, Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite the fact that the main witness for the prosecution retracted his testimony against the film director and claimed it had been given under duress.
Sentsov’s trial and imprisonment sparked a global outcry. The European Union and United States, international organizations, and filmmakers and actors have all called for him to be released.
Sentsov is being held in a prison in Labytnangi, in Russia’s frigid far north. Since May 14, the director has been on a hunger strike, and his supporters increasingly fear for his life.