Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.08.2018
Russian officials floated a rumour that Oleg Sentsov was being flown to freedom. After allowing the hopes of Ukrainians and well-wishers around the world to be raised on false news, the Russian regime of state terrorism announced that it was in fact continuing to torment its most famous hostage and had no intention of releasing him. It was a cruel, fake story.
Oleg Sentsov is a hostage in Russia because Putin is waging war against Ukraine. The Ukrainian filmmaker was captured on 11 May 2014 from his home in Crimea, Ukraine. On 14 May 2018, Oleg Sentsov began a hunger strike to demand the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners of war being held by the Putin regime. After 90 days on hunger strike, Oleg Sentsov’s health is in a very bad state.
The one piece of news that Ukrainians are yearning to hear is that Oleg Sentsov is being released. Very late on Saturday, August 11, it seemed that this fondest wish was coming true. A journalist/photographer at Novaya Gazeta (Russian Edition), Victoria Ivleva-Yorke, wrote on Facebook: “Oleg seems to have been saved! At 23:00 a plane flew him out of Salekhard. I hope the next stop is Kyiv. That’s it!”
It seemed, though, that Ms Ivleva-Yorke was not able to obtain any confirmation for this information. Towards 3 a.m. Moscow time on August 12, she gave an update: “I have no further information about the plane and Oleg, and I am frankly starting to suspect that, alas this could all quite possibly be a huge joke at our expense.”
Later, an administrative body of the Russian regime of state terrorism called the “Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments” denied the information that Oleg Sentsov had left the Labytnangi penal colony. A Kremlin propaganda outlet, RIA Novosti, relayed a statement from the press service of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments Department for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug: “Information that the convict Sentsov OG allegedly left the correctional colony is untrue.”
It remains to be seen what was the source of Victoria Ivleva-Yorke’s original information that turned out to be false. By what means and for what purpose was she played? She plumbed a depth of evil in Muscovy that still has the power to shock by its callous viciousness.
But most important is Oleg Sentsov. What is his true state of health? It is very likely what his cousin, Nataliya Kaplan, reported it to be: “Everything is not just bad, it’s catastrophically bad. … He wrote that the end is close and he doesn’t mean his release.” Urgent appeals, at the highest level, must be made to secure Oleg Sentsov’s release. French President Emmanuel Macron bringing up the subject with Putin on August 11 is a start. All leaders of democratic countries must act to secure justice for Oleg Sentsov and the other Ukrainian hostages of Russia. Oleg Sentsov’s life is at stake.