Led by chairwoman Agnieszka Holland, the European Film Academy is urging Russian officials to immediately release arrested Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov. The Gaamer helmer has been involved in supporting the Euro Maidan protests in Kiev, and opposes the annexation of Crimea by Russia. On May 11, he is understood to have been arrested at his home in Simferopol and accused of organizing a terrorist attack. Official information is sketchy, but it is believed he has been taken to Moscow where he is facing trial, and, that he will be defended by Pussy Riot attorney Dmitry Dinze. Sentsov appeared in the Rotterdam Film Festival with Gaamer in 2011. At the International Film Festival of Odessa the next year, he won a pitching prize with his follow-up project Rhino. From Kiev, where Holland is attending the Ukraine Thinking Together Conference, she said today, “We know that every time when artists start to be suppressed by a political regime, this regime becomes a dictatorship.” Russian film union KinoSoyuz has also lent its voice to the cause saying Sentsov’s detention has “already caused serious damage to the image of our country in the international arena,” and noting the “inadmissibility of such action.” The EFA added, “In support of its friends and colleagues in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in the world in their struggle for free artistic expression, the EFA Board cannot tolerate it when people are persecuted for political reasons and wishes to underline its firm belief in the free expression of opinion as an essential and basic value of any democratic society.”
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