General Moskalkova and Human Rights
Igor Yakovenko’s Blog
June 29, 2018
Tatyana Moskalkova, Russia’s human rights ombudsman and a retired police major general, visited Ukrainian prisoner of conscience Oleg Sentsov on June 28, 2018, which was the forty-sixth day of his hunger strike.
“Sentsov is in good physical shape. He is up and walking. He is interested in current events and watches football on TV. He is writing a screenplay,” Major General Moskalkova reported.
The major general was joined in her visit to Sentsov by Anatoly Sak, human rights ombudsman of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District and a former prosecutor. Sak’s account of the visit is like an expensive frame for Moskalkova’s humanity.
“Tatyana Nikolayevna is a wonderful woman!”
According to the Yamalo-Nenets prosecutor-cum-human rights ombudsman, this was Sentsov’s appraisal of Moskalkova.
Sak continued to “quote” Sentsov.
“Thank her very much and thank you for not forgetting me!”
According to the local human rights ombudsman, Sentsov’s heart was brimming over with love for his jailers, while if you believe Moskalkova, the Polar Bear Concentration Camp, situated north of the Arctic Circle, is the perfect vacation spot, especially if you combine your stay there with a long hunger strike.
Lyudmila Denisova, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, did not believe her colleague. Worse, she refused to recognize her as a colleague.
“I don’t believe that ombudsman, and I can’t bring himself to call her a human rights ombudsman,” Denisov said.
She explained why.
“We flew there on the same plane. Then she rode past me in a motorcade as I stood on the roadside trying to figure out what was happening. She does not pick up her phone, she does not respond in any way. That is why I do not believe any of Moskalkova’s statements.”
The Russian jailers, whose ranks undoubtedly include Moskalkova and Sak, did not let Denisova see Sentsov. The refusal was delivered with the trademark bullying for which the Russian bureaucracy has always had a flare, especially its policemen and jailers. The prison guards told Denisova “no one had forbidden anything,” meaning her meeting with Sentsov. At the same time, none of the prison staff would accept her written application to visit the inmate. As described above, Moskalkova, who had flown there on the same plane as Denisova, subsequently flatly refused to acknowledge her presence. Keep in mind that prior to the trip they had conducted lengthy negotiations on visiting inmates.
All of the ferocity and, simultaneously, the absurdity of Putinist Russia has been concentrated in the Sentsov Affair. The man was forcibly made a Russian national, and he has not been turned over to Ukraine on these ground. A police major general who is in charge of defending human rights claims a man who has been on hunger strike for forty-six days feels fine. The Ukrainian human rights ombudsman is not allowed to see a citizen of her country, and yet the guards claim no one has forbid her to do anything.
The chances of saving Sentsov are fewer with each passing day. International pressure must be ratcheted up to a fundamentally different level than where it is currently. Putin must be made to feel that Sentsov’s death would lead to unacceptable losses for him personally.
It is now a matter of days.
Thanks to Dmitry Dinze for the heads-up. Oleg Sentsov is now in the fiftieth day of his hunger strike. Translated by the Russian Reader