Russian Foreign Minister expected in Berlin (September 14)

Maas should ask Lavrov to release 70 imprisoned Ukrainians and demand human rights for the Crimean Tatars – Oleg Senzow has been on hunger strike for 123 days (Press Release)

Demonstration for the release of Oleg Sentsov. On the occasion of Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Heiko Maas in Berlin the STP calls upon the foreign minister to demand the release of 70 Ukrainians who have been arrested in Russia for political reasons. Bild: Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has appealed to Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to ask his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov to release 70 Ukrainians who are imprisoned in Russia for political reasons. The STP asked the German Foreign Minister to use the talks in Berlin on Friday to propose an exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia – and appealed to him to demand an end to the attacks on Crimean Tatars in Crimea, which is illegally occupied. Arbitrary raids and arrests have created a climate of anxiety on the peninsula.

“Oleg Senzov is the most famous Ukranian political prisoners in Russia. After 123 days of hunger strike, his life is now in acute danger. Senzow must not die,” emphasized Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Thursday. The filmmaker had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Russia in August 2015. In recent weeks, leading personalities from all over the world demanded his release – including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as several movie stars and renowned directors. This week, the EU once again appealed to Russia to set Senzoff free.

The STP is concerned about the ongoing arbitrariness against Ukrainian people in Russia. On Wednesday, for example, an appeal court in Moscow had rejected the objection of Ukrainian journalist Roman Suzhchenko against a long-term prison sentence. On June 4, 2018, the reporter had been sentenced to twelve years in prison for alleged espionage. Last weekend, the request for early release of Wolodymyr Baluch was rejected. He had been sentenced to five years in a labor camp in Crimea. After 179 days of hunger strike, his health is very worrying.

Lavrov and Maas will discuss the situation in Syria as well as the crisis in Ukraine. The talks will probably focus on the concerns of the European Union over the elections in the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, which are scheduled for November 11, 2018.

Headerpicture: Oleg Gennadyevich Sentsov via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0