Home / World News / Hunger-striking Ukraine filmmaker’s health in hazard, lawyer says

Hunger-striking Ukraine filmmaker’s health in hazard, lawyer says

THE lawyer for an imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker who has been on a hunger strike for 120 days says his health has suffered irreversible damage.

Oleg Sentsov, an opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, was sentenced to 20 years in a remote Russian prison in 2015 for conspiracy to conduct terror attacks — charges he denies. He has refused to seek a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Monday, Sentsov’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze said that his condition has steadily worsened, resulting in “irreversible changes affecting the cardiovascular system, kidneys and liver”.

He also said Sentsov is increasingly frail and finds it difficult to get up from his bed.

Prison officials said Sentsov was being given a nutritious formula daily.

media_cameraUkrainian film director Oleg Sentsov during his hearing at a military court in 2015. Picture: Sergei Venyavsky

Sentsov’s case has drawn close international attention, with Western nations campaigning for his release.

In Warsaw, Poland on Monday, human rights activists held a silent protest in support of the Ukrainian filmmaker at the annual meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The two-week meeting, focused on human rights, is a rare forum where civil society and governments participate equally.

Many participants from civil society wore T-shirts or had signs on their backs that read #SaveOlegSentsov.

Previous to that protests were held in Prague in late August, where people wore masks of Oleg Sentsov, asking for him to be freed.

media_cameraA human-rights activist in Warsaw declaring support for Oleg Sentsov at the annual meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Monday, Picture: AP/Czarek Sokolowski
media_cameraPeople wearing masks depicting Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov take part in a protest in front of the Russian embassy in Prague. Picture: Michal Cizek/AFP

Sentsov was arrested in 2014 when Russia seized his native Crimea from Ukraine. Supporters call the prosecution of Sentsov, who staunchly opposed the annexation, politically motivated.

On August 23, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to “immediately release” the jailed filmmaker.

Sentsov announced his hunger strike on May 14, also demanding the release of around 70 Ukrainian political prisoners currently held in Russia.

The 42-year-old Kremlin opponent has been languishing in a Russian Arctic prison with little hope of release, refusing food and receiving only glucose and vitamin supplements.

Last month, he wrote a letter to his cousin saying that he could barely stand up.

“The end is near,” he wrote.

media_cameraProtesters demand the release of Oleg Sentsov, who is currently on a hunger strike in a Russian jail. Picture: AP/Petr David Josek

Originally published as Imprisoned filmmaker’s hunger strike

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