Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.06.2018
In a sea of Russian lies and hate propaganda against Ukraine, some facts must be stated. Oleg Sentsov is on hunger strike. Oleg Sentsov is one of Putin’s Ukrainian hostages who has been on hunger strike since May 14 in order to free all Ukrainian political prisoners held in the Russian Federation and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea. After visits on June 21 and 22, his lawyer reported that Oleg Sentsov was experiencing heart and kidney problems, that he had lost a lot of weight, and that doctors in the penal colony where he is being held warned that a health crisis was imminent. The Putin regime blocks all attempts by Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Lyudmila Denisova, to visit Oleg Sentsov or any of the Ukrainian political prisoners of war it illegally holds.
Russia is hiding the state of health of Ukrainian hostages, and stonewalling Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman. There is no end to the excuses and fabrications coming from the Putin regime. The latest ploy by the abductors and torturers of Oleg Sentsov is to force Russian citizenship on him as a form of punishment. Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian citizen and a resident of Ukraine’s territory of Crimea. By stealing his Ukrainian citizenship and imposing the citizenship of the country invading and occupying his homeland, Russia deprives Oleg Sentsov of his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Putin regime makes this an excuse to deny the visit of Lyudmila Denisova, saying that a Ukrainian official with diplomatic status can’t visit a non-Ukrainian citizen (because Russia stripped Oleg Sentsov of his Ukrainian citizenship). This sort of madness is what Russia will pursue to the end of time as part of its total war against the Ukraine.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called on the world community to move beyond words to deeds in the liberation of Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. On June 29 on Twitter, President Poroshenko wrote: “I am grateful for the cohesion of the world community around the painful question of Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin. In my opinion, it is time not so much for statements and expressions of concern from our international partners, as it is for decisive action in response. #LetMyPeopleGo” President Poroshenko cited the world’s response to Russia’s nerve agent attack in Salisbury in the United Kingdom as an example of what should be done.
Lithuania is the first nation to act. An extraordinary session of the Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament, on June 27 voted to add persons connected with the case of Oleg Sentsov to the list of individuals sanctioned under Lithuania’s “Magnitsky law.” The resolution called on the Lithuanian government to consult with Ukraine about who ordered, performed, or participated in Oleg Sentsov’s abduction and incarceration.
Tatyana Moskalkova does Putin’s dirty work for him. She hides Oleg Sentsov and the other Ukrainian hostages away from Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmila Denisova. Moskalkova is the one who regularly presents false information about the state of health of Oleg Sentsov. She is a former police general with no experience in the field of human rights: Tatyana Moskalkova is an agent of the Russian regime of state terrorism and nothing more.
Top of Lithuania’s Magnitsky List sanctions concerning Oleg Sentsov should be Tatyana Moskalkova. She is the opposite of the human rights ombudsman she purports to be. She is in fact a gross abuser of international human rights law. Not only Lithuania, but every other country with a Magnitsky law (the United States, Estonia, Canada, Latvia, the United Kingdom) should sanction Tatyana Moskalkova and every other corrupt Russian official responsible for the captivity of Oleg Sentsov and the more than 70 other Ukrainian political prisoners of war.
As President Poroshenko said, the civilized West must move beyond statements of concern to decisive action leading to the liberation of Ukrainian political prisoners of war. All Russian officials who had anything to do with the abduction, torture, and hostage-taking of Ukrainians should face the severest of sanction penalties on their travel and their finances. Russia should be declared a state sponsor of terrorism for invading Ukraine and committing grave crimes against humanity in the occupied territories of Crimea and (part of) Donbas. Liberation must come for the Ukrainian political prisoners of war. Liberation must come for Crimea and Donbas. Liberation must come for the West under attack from Russia.