Film-makers urge action to save Ukraine’s Sentsov

Paris: Britain’s Ken Loach, Canada’s David Cronenberg and dozens of other film-makers called on Monday on Russia to free Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov (pictured), who has been on hunger strike for nearly three months in a Siberian jail.
In an open letter in French daily Le Monde, around 120 actors and directors, joined by French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen, warned that “to do nothing would be to let Oleg Sentsov die” and called on the EU and UN to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin into freeing him.
Sentsov, a 42-year-old film-maker and Kremlin opponent is serving a 20-year-sentence on terrorism charges after being convicted three years ago of arson in his native Crimea following its annexation by Russia.
Last week, his cousin warned that his health was “catastrophically bad”, prompting French President Emmanuel Macron to take up his case in a telephone call with Putin.
Russia has denied any deterioration in his health, but Putin promised to respond to Macron’s proposals on ending Sentsov’s hunger strike, according to a French statement.
In their letter, the group of mostly European directors, including French-Swiss film legend Jean-Luc Godard, accused Moscow of trying to silence Sentsov.
“Today, a film-maker is dying because he is a dissident,” they said comparing his plight to that of dissident novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who spent seven years in a Soviet gulag. — AFP