Russia: jailed Ukranian filmmaker enters 100th day of hunger strike

Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian filmmaker and critic of the Kremlin government who is incarnated in Russia, entered 100th day of hunger strike yesterday.

Sentsov, a Crimean native, has been on hunger strike since May, demanding that Russian government releases all political prisoners. He was arrested and charged in May 2014 with heading a terrorist group that plotted attacks in Crimea. In August 2015,  he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for terrorism and arms trafficking in a case Amnesty International described as “an unfair trial on politically motivated charges”.  He denies the charges, and is currently held in a Russian penal colony north of the Arctic Circle.

According to Sentsov’s family, since the beginning of the strike, he has lost more than 30 kilograms and his life is in grave danger, and he ‘could die any minute’. Russian human rights activist Soya Svetova, who was allowed to visit Sentsov in prison, said that his health is critical, but he is dedicated to continue his strike. Sentsov’s lawyer stated that he is prepared to die in jail.

Despite of international pressure, it seems the Russian government decided to let Sentsov die in jai.

In June, his mother had written to Russian president Vladimir Putin pleading for her son’s release, but this was rejected. The Russian government demands that Sentsov petitions for his clemency himself: something he is unlikely to do, as it would mean he will have to admit his guilt.

At the beginning of August, more than 100 other international filmmakers and artists, among them Ken Loach, wrote an appeal to the Russian government demanding Sentsov’s release.