Russian human rights activist Zoya Svetova visited Ukrainian filmmaker and political prisoner Oleg Sentsov in the prison in Russia’s Arctic where he is being held. Sentsov has been on hunger strike for 94 days.
“I saw Oleg Sentsov. Thank God, he is alive,” Svetova wrote on Facebook. “He was smiling and laughing at me: I’m hard of hearing and he speaks quietly, so he had to keep repeating himself. For him, it’s no small task: he tires easily.”
She added that Sentsov thanks everyone for their support.
“When I asked him what needs to be done, Oleg said, ‘Do what you must. That’s what I do.’”
The human rights activist added, “The most important thing right now is to initiate the process of exchanging Russians held by Ukraine for Ukrainian political prisoners as quickly as possible. This will save Oleg’s life. Also, I would really like to tell Oleg’s mother what an incredible son she has.”
Earlier, Svetova told the Russian-language international media outlet RTVI that Sentsov said he was in “pre-critical” condition. He has been receiving IV therapy, but this alone will not keep him alive.
Sentsov maintains his main demand – the release of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners, says Svetova.
The two-hour meeting took place in Sentsov’s 4-person ward in the “White Bear” Colony in Labytnangi. The prison colony director and two other staff were present.
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov and activist Oleksandr Kolchenko were detained in Crimea on May 10, 2014. Charged with plotting terrorist acts, a Russian court sentenced Kolchenko to 10 years imprisonment and Sentsov to 20. Two other Ukrainians – Gennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chirniy – were detained with them. Afanasiev was released in 2016 during a prisoner exchange. Chirniy remains imprisoned in Magadan, in Russia’s far east.