Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov addressed a hard-hitting letter to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the high-profile arrests of three military volunteers on charges linked with the murder in 2016 of journalist Pavel Sheremet. Mr. Sentsov, who spent five years in Russian captivity for opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, notes that it was those volunteers working for Ukraine who proved easy targets for the Russian aggressor. It is now, he suggests, the Ukrainian authorities who are persecuting volunteers.
As somebody who was told by the Russian FSB that he would get a 20-year sentence if he didn’t provide the false testimony demanded and who 15 months later got exactly 20 years, Mr. Sentsov’s abhorrence of predetermined sentences is fully understandable. He is, however, neither prosecutor nor judge, and there may be things he does not know. On the other hand, the concerns he raises, especially with respect to the presumption of innocence, were expressed by many people back in December 2019, and they have only been escalated by recent radical changes in the charges against well-known war veteran and musician Andriy Antonenko (Riffmaster), pediatric surgeon and military volunteer Yulia Kuzmenko and military nurse Yana Duhar.