Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker imprisoned in Russia, has appeared in the first released video footage of him after having begun his hunger strike on May 14, 2018. The last time Sentsov was seen on video was in February 2016.
The video portrays Sentsov 17 days after beginning his hunger strike in the Labytnangi colony. It records a telephone conversation between him and Ksenia Sobchak and her mother Lyudmila Narusova. The video was later released to Russian media.
Despite downplaying the state of his health and insisting that he did not have scurvy as rumoured, Sentsov nonetheless affirmed that he lost a few teeth due to “old age and the cold weather [in Labytnangi].” The video portrays his health as having markedly deteriorated since the last recorded footage of him was made available.
Israeli medical specialist, Vladimir Brodskii, insists that if Sentsov has maintained the hunger strike to this point, then it is almost certain that if he does manage to survive, he will suffer from permanent physical damage to the point that it would be impossible to transport him from the colony alive. Nothing is currently known about what medical treatment he is receiving apart from his reliance on an IV line, as reported by his lawyer, Dmitriy Dinze.
In the newly released video Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov downplays his health condition to Russian politician Ksenia Sobchak. Photo credit: Krym.Realii
Sentsov is a Ukrainian filmmaker who was arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea in May 2014, on the accusations of plotting terrorist attacks. He was charged with 20 years in prison as a subject of the Russian Federation, despite never having relinquished his Ukrainian citizenship. The charges are widely believed to be fabricated and are condemned by international human rights organizations.
On May 14, 2018, Sentsov announced a hunger strike. His demands were the immediate release of all Ukrainian political prisoners being held in the Russian Federation and occupied territory of Crimea. Sentsov turned 42 years old today.
On June 22, Sentsov’s mother, Lyudmila Sentsova, wrote a letter asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to pardon Sentsov, citing his moral character irrespective of his innocence or guilt, and the fact that he is a father, stating, “I will simply say that he did not kill anyone. He has already spent four years in prison. His children are waiting for him.” The letter was received by Russian authorities on June 26, and has not received a response.
During his discussions with Sobchak, Sentsov refused to accept high praise for his bravery, and during a recent visit from his cousin, Nataliya Kaplan, he expressed hopes that less attention be paid to him and more to the other Ukrainian political prisoners during this time.
/By Vladyslav Yakovlev