Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was illegally convicted and imprisoned in Russia, has sent a letter to First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, Iryna Gerashchenko, to inform her that he monitors developments in Ukraine.
"[I've got] a letter from Sentsov. He asks to say hello to all Ukrainians. To President Poroshenko and [Ukraine's Foreign] Minister Pavlo Klimkin," Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook on January 21.
"'Judging from how Russian TV criticizes them – they have been doing everything the right way!'" she quoted Sentsov's words from the letter.
According to Gerashchenko, Sentsov does not give up, and is closely monitoring developments in Ukraine. "Oleh considers it is very important that the [Ukrainian] state has finally started supporting film production and book publishing. And [he] calls all programs for supporting inclusive education very important," she said.
"Even in prison, facing the information blockade, Oleh is trying to follow up the changes in Ukraine, especially in the humanitarian sphere," Gerashchenko summed up.
Russian human rights activist Nikolay Shchur in turn informed he had got a new letter from Sentsov, dated January 17. "Oleh Sentsov sent a letter dated January 17. He has written that he is doing well: he is engaged in sports, he has gained almost the same weight as he had before imprisonment; for the last month he has run out of three pens)). Unlike Sasha [a diminutive form of Oleksandr] Kolchenko, he was not put in the punishment cell during the New Year holidays,” Shchur added.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Sentsov was arrested in the Russian-occupied Crimea in spring 2014 together with Kolchenko. 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.
Sentsov has been serving his term in a penal colony in the town of Labytnangi, Russia's Yamal. He went on hunger strike on May 14, demanding that Russia free all Ukrainian political prisoners. On October 5, the Russian penitentiary agency reported that Sentsov declared an end to the hunger strike starting October 6. Sentsov noted that, had he moved on with the strike, he would have been force-fed due to his critical condition.