Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 30.09.2018
On September 29, the Russian officials who are holding Oleg Sentsov hostage released an undated photograph of him, in which he appears to be receiving a medical checkup. In broken Russian, the Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation said that Sentsov “was brought to Labytnangi city hospital, where for him were conducted additional researches and received consultations of medical specialists.”
Oleg Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker who was an activist in the “AutoMaidan” movement during the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-14. During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Crimea, in February-March 2014, Sentsov helped Ukrainian servicemen and their families who were besieged in their bases by Russian special forces soldiers. On 11 May 2014, Oleg Sentsov was abducted by Russia’s Federal Security Service, who were (and are) an illegal armed formation on Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. In violation of international humanitarian law, Oleg Sentsov was removed from Ukraine to the far north of the Russian Federation, to the Labytnangi penal colony.
On May 14 of this year, Oleg Sentsov went on an open-ended hunger strike to demand the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners. The Muscovy regime of state terrorism is holding hostage over 70 Ukrainians because they remain loyal to Ukraine and refuse to submit to the foreign occupation regime that has de facto control of Crimea and of part of Donbas. Sentsov’s health is badly deteriorating after 140 days on hunger strike.
The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine has demanded access to Ukrainian citizen Oleg Sentsov, but the Putin regime has rebuffed all appeals from Ukraine and the international community. “We demand admission of Ukrainian consul and doctors to Oleg,” wrote Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariana Betsa, on Twitter. No medical certificate accompanied the last communication from the Russian side to Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Lyudmila Denisova.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has passed a resolution to formally nominate Oleg Sentsov for the Nobel Peace Prize. The speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, Andriy Parubiy, said he is convinced that “Oleg and all Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin will be released from Russian torture chambers.” Former President of Poland and “Solidarity” founder, Lech Wałęsa – who is himself a Nobel Peace Prize laureate – also put forward a nomination for Oleg Sentsov. The European Parliament has placed Oleg Sentsov on the short-list for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
The last word goes to Oleg Sentsov. He sent a letter to Russian human rights activist and journalist, Zoya Svetova, which reached her on September 26. Oleg Sentsov wrote that he is “grateful to those people who still, despite this ongoing, endless marathon, continue to support me, and most importantly, all other Ukrainian political prisoners. They do not give up and neither do I. I believe in a happy ending of this whole story, no matter what. Nothing lasts forever, even the bad things!... I did not expect I could endure this long and I do not know how much more I can, but I keep going! You keep going too. Greetings to all good people!”