Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 06.10.2018
Oleg Sentsov has ended his hunger strike. Putin regime officials threatened Sentsov with force feeding, which would have recklessly endangered his health. Encouraged by his lawyer, relatives, and supporters world-wide, Oleg Sentsov chose to live, and not allow himself to be tortured to death by his Kremlin captors.
A little over three months after the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, Oleg Sentsov was abducted by an illegal armed formation in Crimea, Ukraine: the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. He has been held as a hostage by the Putin regime of state terrorism for almost four and a half years now.
On 14 May 2018, Oleg Sentsov announced an open ended hunger strike to bring about the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners being held by the invaders of Ukraine from Muscovy. There are over 70 prisoners of conscience who are hostages in Putin’s dungeons in Crimea, Ukraine (Moscow-occupied); Donbas, Ukraine (Moscow-occupied); and in the Russian Federation. Sentsov and people of good will all around the world hoped that Sentsov’s heroic fight would draw attention away from the propaganda spectacle of the FIFA World Cup in Muscovy and towards the crimes against humanity being committed by the Putin regime of state terrorism.
The Western press ignored Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike. Leaders of Western democracies made no efforts to free him or the other Ukrainian hostages of the Putin regime, such as Roman Sushchenko, Volodymyr Balukh, Pavlo Hryb, and Emir-Usein Kuku. The abductors of Oleg Sentsov kept him from seeing the Ukrainian consul, the Ukrainian human rights ombudsman, Amnesty International, and competent doctors.
In a hand-written note passed out of prison to his lawyer and cousin, Oleg Sentsov explained that he was forced to end his hunger strike under the threat of torture by the Muscovites who are holding him hostage. “Force-feeding was planned to be applied to me in the nearest time. My opinion is not being considered for that,” he wrote. Sentsov’s health condition is extremely bad, according to his lawyer. He is suffering organ failure. Rather than being strapped to a bed and fed intravenously (“the condition of a vegetable” according to Dmitriy Dinze, Sentsov’s lawyer), he made the choice to end his hunger strike on October 6.
Oleg Sentsov can see that after 145 days on hunger strike the Ukrainian hostages being held by the Kremlin have not been freed. He can see that no pressure has been applied on the Putin regime to stop its crimes against Ukrainians and to stop its war against Ukraine. Almost powerless as Putin’s hostage, Oleg Sentsov attempted the only thing that was within his power: a hunger strike. He is disappointed not to have succeeded in his stated goal of liberating his comrades. The Ukrainian filmmaker wrote: “One hundred and forty five days of the fight, 20 kg of weight lost as well as a broken body but my goal has not been achieved. I am grateful to everyone who supported me and I am asking for a pardon from those whose expectations I did not meet…”
Apart from Ukraine, the Western civilized world has let Oleg Sentsov down. We have not stopped the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine and we have not stopped the escalating horrors of the Putin regime of state terrorism. For that, we must beg Oleg Sentsov’s forgiveness.
Oleg Sentsov was forced to write in Russian and not allowed to write in Ukrainian. But he closed his note as he always has and as Ukrainians traditionally do, with the national greeting: “Glory to Ukraine!”