5 Jul 2018 13:18

Russia forcing citizenship on Ukrainian filmmaker Sentsov - lawyer

KYIV. July 5 (Interfax) - The Russian authorities have made several attempts to force Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov to sign documents that would make him a Russian citizen, but technically and legally, the Ukrainian citizen was unable to refuse the Russian citizenship imposed on him by the federal constitutional law, lawyer Dmitry Dinze said.

"A number of provocations have been staged against Oleh Sentsov to force him to sign Russian naturalization documents and thereby accept a passport. Oleh always reads documents before he signs them, so those attempts have failed. There have been attempts to force him to sign Russian naturalization documents at transit penitentiaries and in Yakutia," Dinze wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

However, Sentsov "was technically, physically, and legally unable to reject the Russian naturalization imposed by the Russian federal constitutional law on the annexation of Crimea because the FSB refused to allow notarization of the power of attorney and statements," Dinze said.

"The detention center blocked letters and statements sent by Oleh. They went to investigators and weren't allowed to get going," he said, adding that the deadline by which Sentsov could have renounced his Russian citizenship was missed.

"We refused to challenge the imposed citizenship in Crimean courts in order not to legitimize Russia's illegal procedures regarding Ukrainian citizen Oleh Sentsov and retained his de jure status as a Ukrainian citizen. Many here have correctly understood that the courts did not specify Sentsov's citizenship in their resolutions and left the question open," Dinze said.

There is a Ukrainian passport in Sentsov's file, he said.

Russian ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova said on June 6 that she did not know whether her Ukrainian counterpart Liudmila Denisova would be able to meet with Sentsov in prison, given that Russian laws "prohibited a foreigner from visiting a citizen of another country. She is a citizen of Ukraine, and Sentsov is a citizen of Russia. [...] Let us say this man has dual citizenship," Moskalkova said.

Sentsov, who was detained in Crimea in 2014, is being held in the Russian penitentiary Bely Medved (Polar Bear) in the sub-Arctic Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. In August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced him to 20 years in a high-security penitentiary.

Sentsov went on hunger strike on May 14, 2018, and demanded that all Ukrainian citizens held in Russia be set free.

Dinze said in late June that the Federal Penitentiary Service's Yamal-Nenets branch had proven Sentsov's Ukrainian citizenship with documents. The lawyer published a scan of the certificate issued on October 10, 2017, and received by the Ukrainian Consulate in Yekaterinburg on January 11, 2018, on Facebook.

"Convict Sentsov, O.G., is a citizen of the Republic of Ukraine. He arrived with a convoy on October 9, 2017. His personal record includes Passport EC 477125, issued on November 12, 1997," the document reads.

The certificate contains the following details of the addressee: "18 Leontyevsky Pereulok, Moscow. The Consulate of the Republic of Ukraine." The incoming correspondence stamp reads: "The Consulate of Ukraine in Yekaterinburg."

Denisova said at a press briefing in Moscow in June that Sentsov was incarcerated in Russia as a Ukrainian citizen. She said there was not a single document proving his alleged Russian citizenship.