Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a show of support Tuesday for Ukraine by welcoming Oleg Sentsov, a filmmaker and outspoken critic of Russia‘s annexation of his native Crimea.
Trudeau said their sit-down at his parliamentary office aimed to “reiterate our support for Ukraine, our condemnation of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its disruptive actions in the region, and its illegal arrests of political prisoners.”
Sentsov had been held in a Russian jail for the first five years of a 20-year sentence for allegedly planning attacks in Moscow-occupied Crimea.
But he was released in a prisoner swap in September and is now based in Kiev and still a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine.
“It is a true pleasure, an honor to welcome Oleg Sentsov here to Ottawa,” Trudeau said, thanking the filmmaker for his advocacy.
In November Sentsov travelled to Strasbourg to formally receive his 2018 Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s annual human rights award. There, he warned against attempts to thaw ties with Russia.
“I don’t believe what Putin says and I encourage you not to either,” he said.
Earlier this month, Sentsov joined a Sundance Film Festival panel discussion in the US state of Utah about filmmakers being imprisoned for their work, exiled or censored.
Sentsov’s visit to Ottawa came a day before the United States Senate is to end its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
Trump was impeached for abuse of power over his withholding $391 million in military aid and an Oval Office White House meeting until Ukraine announced investigations of Trump’s political rivals, in aid of Trump’s re-election effort.
The US Senate, where Trump’s Republicans hold the majority, is expected to acquit the president in a vote on Wednesday.