“Oleg has been on hunger strike for 52 days and 20 hours.”
“He Has Lost Fifteen Kilos during the Hunger Strike”: Oleg Sentsov’s Cousin Visits Filmmaker in Prison
July 5, 2018
Natalya Kaplan, cousin of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, has visited him at the Polar Bear Penal Colony in Labytnangi, reports Gromadskoe.
“I met with Oleg. We chatted for two hours. It was a short visit. Oleg, who is 190 centimeters tall, now weighs 75 kilos. He has lost 15 kilos during the hunger strike,” said Ms. Kaplan.
According to her, Mr. Sentsov’s health is currently listed as satisfactory. His lab results are not good, but “there is nothing critical.”
“Yesterday, he felt quite sick. Today, he was fine. He came to the meeting on his own. He feels worse in the evenings. He says he now has a much easier time of it. The first three weeks of the hunger strike were the most agonizing period. He has been getting IVs now. He would not survive without them. He has no plans of ending the hunger strike. His outlook is optimistic. He believes what he is doing has a purpose. And he believes he will win,” said the filmmaker’s cousin.
Kaplan added that Sentsov has asked the public not to visit him in prison, but to visit the other political prisoners for whom he has been fighting.
Mr. Sentsov was convicted in Russia on charges of planning terrorist attacks in Crimea. He has been on hunger strike since May 14, demanding the Russian authorities release all Ukrainian political prisoners in their custody except him. Many Russian and international cultural figures and human rights activists have voiced their support for him.
In recent weeks, the Russian and Ukrainian sides have been trying to agree on a prisoner exchange and iron out a schedule of visits to penal colonies. Lyudmila Denisova, the Verkhovna Rada’s human rights ombudsman, has voiced Ukraine’s willingness to implement an exchange of twenty-three prisoners from each side.
Thanks to Dmitry Dinze and Askold Kurov for the heads-up.
Here is what Novaya Gazeta omitted from the original article as published on the Gromadskoye website.
Natalya Kaplan told Oleg that Emir Hussein Kuku had joined his hunger strike and about the demonstrations supporting him.
“He is really grateful there have been so many rallies in his support, that people have not given up and keep on fighting. At the same time, however, he is quite disappointed very little attention has been paid to the other political prisoners. He thinks that if he alone were released, it would be a complete failure,” she said.
“In particular, he asked Ombudsman Denisova, Father Kliment, the independent doctors, and consular officials who have tried to visit him to go visit the other political prisoners, so that no one forgets them,” said Ms. Kaplan.
According to her, he has television for entertainment, and he has also been writing and editing his old diary entries. He asks that no more books be sent to him. He has lots of books as it is.
It has transpired the former so-called prosecutor of Russia-annexed Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, was involved in Mr. Sentsov’s illegal trial in the Russian Federation, during which he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
On June 29, Mr. Sentsov’s attorney, Dmitry Dinze, reported Mr. Sentsov was in the prison infirmary, but his condition was stable.
Mr. Dinze also reported Russia had received two requests to pardon Mr. Sentsov.
On June 15, Ms. Denisova was not allowed to see Mr. Sentsov. Subsequently, Ms. Denisova was also not allowed to see Ukrainian political prisoner Mykola Karpyuk, imprisoned in the Russian city of Vladimir.
On June 21, the Ukrainian Embassy in Russia demanded Ms. Denisova be granted priority access to the prisons where political prisoners Oleg Sentsov, Stanislav Klykh, Alexander Kolchenko, and Vladimir Balukh have been incarcerated.
On June 21, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko again talked on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to release the Ukrainian political prisoners.
The ambassadors of the G7 countries have expressed deep concern about the circumstances of Mr. Sentsov and the other Ukrainian political prisoners incarcerated in Russia.
On June 14, the European Parliament passed a resolution demanding the immediate release of Mr. Sentsov and the Kremlin’s other Ukrainian political prisoners.
On June 19, President Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin’s position on Mr. Sentsov had not changed after an appeal to release him was made by prominent Russian cultural figures.
Sixty-four Ukrainian political prisoners are currently being held in Russia and annexed Crimea, twenty-seven of them in Russia proper. Fifty-eight of them were either arrested in Crimea or arrested on charges involving Crimea. These numbers do not take into account the currently held in the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Translated by the Russian Reader. Image courtesy of Gromadskoye