Dmitry Dinze, the lawyer of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who is serving a 20-year term in prison in Russia, has said his client went on hunger strike indefinitely.
The lawyer, who had visited Sentsov in the Beliy Medved (Polar Bear) colony in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Russia, told the Russian alternative media outlet MediaZona that his client demanded the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.
"I, Sentsov Oleh, a citizen of Ukraine, illegally sentenced by a Russian court and being in the colony of the town of Labytnangi, declare an indefinite hunger strike from May 14, 2018. The only condition for its cessation is the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in the Russian Federation," Sentsov wrote in a note he passed through the lawyer.
"Together till the end. Slava Ukraini! [Glory to Ukraine]," Sentsov wrote at the end of the message.
According to the lawyer, his client was preparing for the hunger strike for about a month and a half. "He refused to receive food parcels, did not go to the colony's store, started eating thin broths and ate the minimum amount of food, preparing the body for starving, which he announced after the preparations." Sentsov sent a letter to the chief of the colony to inform about the hunger strike and demand the release of 64 Ukrainian political prisoners as a condition for the end of his protest action. Sentsov did not mention the names. According to the lawyer, the demand does not apply to him personally.
"The colony's [officials] tried to persuade him to stop the hunger strike; representatives of the Human Rights Council of the Federal Penitentiary Service visited him. He said in response that the hunger strike would continue until the victorious end: either he perishes or his demands are fulfilled. He did not demand his own release. It's only about the release of the political prisoners," the lawyer said.
After the start of the hunger strike, Sentsov was transferred to an isolated cell where his state of health is controlled by a doctor; now it is stable. The lawyer said Sentsov did not put forth any requirements or claims to the colony.
The lawyer warned the officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service often resorted to countering hunger strikes of prisoners by sending them to a psychological and psychiatric examination, where prisoners are found to be mentally ill and undergo forced treatment and feeding. At the same time, the materials of the Sentsov case have already results of his psychological and psychiatric examination, which found him completely sane.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russia's security forces detained Sentsov together with Oleksandr Kolchenko in occupied Crimea in May 2014 on charges of organizing terrorist attacks on the peninsula.
In August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court in Russia's Rostov-on-Don sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in a high-security penal colony. Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Both men pleaded not guilty.