Oleg Sentsov’s Forty Days
June 22, 2018
We are witnessing a tragedy generated by incredible cynicism. Oleg Sentsov has been on hunger strike for forty days.
Have you tried not eating for four days? For ten days? I once performed an experiment on myself and did not eat for eight days. What mattered to me was whether I could do it or not. I passed the test fairly easily.
As far as I can remember, no one has been on hunger strike for forty days in a row.*
I would imagine Sentsov, who is 42 years old, has already irreparably damaged his health and can never be completely normal again. This is quite sad. What is even sadder, however, is that he apparently has decided to die, thus challenging the people who sent him to prison for 20 years, annexed Crimea, and unleashed a war in Donbass.
Sentsov has no other means of influencing these people, who are firmly convinced anyone can be broken with a good spanking. We are thus witnesses to a invisible duel between Sentsov and Putin, who bears direct responsibility for everything that happens in Russia.
No one will emerge from this duel a winner. There will only be losers. Sentsov will most likely die an agonizing death, and the damage to Putin’s reputation will be worse than from the sinking of the Kursk and the downing of Flight MH17, although people with their heads screwed on straight have long understood that Putin’s reputation is beyond saving.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will also bear blame for Sentsov’s death. He has been incredibly passive during the hunger strike and has done basically nothing to save Sentsov.
All of us, the people of Russia, are directly responsible for the lawlessness of our authorities, who have destroyed a young man on trumped-up charges. I do not believe Sentsov could have planned terrorist attacks in Crimea or even laid a finger on anyone.
Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison because Putin illegally annexed Crimea, defying the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed on December 5, 1994.
This is a typical KGB move: doing something nasty and blaming the victim for it.
So, before you bask in the success of the Russian national football team, remember that an amazingly courageous man is dying a painful death right now for his beliefs.
His name is Oleg Sentsov.
This is not only his tragedy. It is our tragedy, too.
Yegor Lopatin is a Russian writer. Thanks to Elena Zaharova for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
* Provisional IRA militant Bobby Sands was on hunger strike in the Maze Prison for 66 days in 1981, while Soviet dissident and political prisoner Anatoly Marchenko struck for 117 days in 1986. Marchenko died in a prison hospital several days after ending his strike, while Sands died in the prison hospital while still on strike. // TRR