Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 05.08.2018
Putin’s torment of Oleg Sentsov is relentless. Corrupt Russian officials have worsened their torture of Sentsov since he went on hunger strike. His hunger strike began on May 14, lasted throughout the moral obscenity of the World Cup being held in Russia, and continues to this day. Sentsov is the most prominent of the over 70 Ukrainians being held hostage by the Russian regime of state terrorism. His only demand is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners of war being held in the Russian Federation and in the Ukrainian territory of Crimea which is illegally occupied by Muscovy.
Russia is holding Oleg Sentsov hostage in Labytnangi in the far north of Russia, far from his home in Crimea, in Ukraine. The Putin regime is keeping Sentsov hidden away. The Russians have refused to allow Ukrainian consular officials to see him. They have refused to let the Ukrainian human rights ombudsman see him. They have refused to permit Amnesty International. What the Russians have done is publish reports of purported visits by Putin regime officials. Putin is terrified that news of Oleg Sentsov’s actual condition will emerge, or that Sentsov's honest words will be published to counter Kremlin lies.
Oleg Sentsov was ‘convicted’ by an illegally constituted court in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea. His incarceration is politically motivated. Amnesty International took up the cause of Oleg Sentsov, as he is doubtless a prisoner of conscience. Oleg Sentsov, a filmmaker, was a peaceful participant in Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, being active in the “AutoMaidan” movement. When Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, Oleg Sentsov went from Kyiv to his home in Crimea to help Ukrainian soldiers besieged in their bases receive humanitarian aid. He also helped some families of Ukrainian servicemen to escape the predations of the invaders from Muscovy. For all of this, Oleg Sentsov has been persecuted by the Putin regime.
Amnesty International tried to visit Oleg Sentsov, in order to assess the state of his health after almost 3 months on hunger strike. The request by Amnesty International was turned down by Russian authorities, without explanation.
Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International’s Ukraine Director, said: “Denying us the right to visit Oleg Sentsov is indefensible. After almost 3 months on hunger strike, there are grave concerns for his health. We were planning to visit Oleg accompanied by an independent medical expert who would be able to evaluate his health. In order to dispel all doubts about Oleg’s health condition and the adequacy of medical assistance provided to him, such a visit is imperative.” Further on in a statement issued on August 2, Amnesty International called for Sentsov’s release, access to qualified health professionals while he is incarcerated, and reminds Russian authorities that they must grant access to Sentsov for Ukrainian consular staff.
Today is the 84th day of Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike. The true state of Sentsov’s health is not known because the Russians are hiding him away from competent authorities. All evidence suggests that by neglect of care Russia is torturing Oleg Sentsov to death. Corrupt Russian officials are committing grave violations of international human rights law. At the very least, the Russians who torment Sentsov should be sanctioned under “Magnitsky” laws which are in force in the US, Canada, the UK, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. Of course Russia should release all Ukrainian political prisoners of war, and pressure should be put on the Putin regime to do so. And of course Russia should stop its war against Ukraine, and Crimea and Donbas should be liberated from the foreign invaders from Muscovy.
Free Oleg Sentsov.