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Russia extends detention of Ukrainian filmmaker

Russia on Monday extended by three months the detention of a Ukrainian film director arrested on charges of plotting “terrorist attacks” in Crimea after the peninsula’s takeover by Moscow.

“The detention of Oleg Sentsov has been extended until October 11,” a spokeswoman for a Moscow court, Yulia Sotnikova, told AFP.

She did not rule out his detention could be renewed again.

Russia’s security service the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, in May accused the 37-year-old director and several other people of being members of Ukrainian ultra-nationalist group the Right Sector.

Sentsov, who lives in Crimea, is an opposition activist and has reportedly refused to get a Russian passport after the peninsula was annexed by Moscow in March, to the outrage of the West.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said he was disappointed by the decision.

“Ukraine will not abandon its citizen,” he said on Twitter. “We will continue to fight for his freedom.”

Leading European filmmakers have signed a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing deep concern about Sentsov’s arrest.

British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Spain’s Pedro Almodovar and Wim Wenders of Germany, were among 19 signatories of the letter initiated by the Berlin-based European Film Academy (EFA).

The letter said the director should be charged “with a recognisable offence” or released, and urged a “full, prompt and impartial” probe into his “apparently arbitrary detention”.

Sentsov, member of Ukrainian protest group AutoMaidan, presented his first feature film “Gaamer” about a computer-game obsessed teenager at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2012.

If convicted of terrorism, he and others face jail terms of up to 20 years.