The workers of White Bear penal colony where Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov is held in Russia are worried about his health and continuously try to make him stop his indefinite hunger strike, says Sentsov’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze.
“The penal colony’s [employees] are concerned about his health the most,” Dinze told Hromadske. “They think he’s approaching irreversible changes. They say that the political reasons have now reached their end and no one’s interested in [Sentsov’s] hunger strike any longer because [in their words] ‘it’s stupid.’”
Sentsov is now nearly 119 days into his hunger strike, which he doesn’t plan to end until all Ukrainian political prisoners are released from Russian jails. Since August 2015, over a year after he was detained, Sentsov has been serving a 20-year sentence on fabricated charges of planning terrorist acts in Russia-annexed Crimea. He is currently spending the term in a penal colony located in the Siberian town of Labytnangi.
According to Dinze, you can’t call the employees’ attempts to stop the hunger strike “pressure” yet, they are more like “monotonous begging on a daily basis.”
Health-wise, Dinze says Sentsov looks the same as he did in the latest photographs provided by Russia. His pastimes consist of “responding to letters, editing texts, and working on film scripts.”
One of the photographs of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov who’s serving an illegal 20-year prison term in Russia published by the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova. Denisova received the photo, which depicts Sentsov on his 88th of the hunger strike from her Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova. Photo credit: Facebook / Lyudmila Denisova
“He’s currently busy with filmmaking, with the film, for which shooting will soon commence and which is organized by its producer. It’s called Numbers, I think,” Dinze said.
The lawyer says that Sentsov receives news about the demonstrations in his support from cousin Natalya Kaplan. He also refuted Russia’s recent claims that Sentsov doesn’t want to meet up with human rights activists and priests.
“That’s not true. He wants to and is happy to meet and talk with people,” Dinze said.
According to Dinze, Sentsov is not planning to back away from his hunger strike, but the hope for freedom gets smaller with every day.
“Of course, he still hopes that the respected political decision [on his release] will be adopted, but that hope gets smaller by the day,” Dinze said adding that the filmmaker refuses to personally ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for pardoning, something Putin’s administration said he would have to do to be released.
Dinze’s next meeting with Sentsov is scheduled for end of September-beginning of October. To find out more about Russia’s illegal conviction of Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, an activist detained on the same day with Sentsov and convicted under the same criminal case, tune in to Hromadske’s Facebook page tonight at 9 p.m. Kyiv time or watch the film here now.
/By Maria Romanenko