Sentsov's cousin meets with him for first time in four years

Sentsov's cousin meets with him for first time in four years

Natalia Kaplan, a cousin sister of Ukrainian political prisoner, film director Oleg Sentsov, who is illegally held by Russia, has met with him in a prison in Labytnangi.

This was their first meeting in four years (Kaplan last saw Sentsov during his trial in Rostov-on-Don in 2014), and they spoke for two hours, Kaplan told Hromadske.

"I had a meeting with Oleg Sentsov. We spoke for two hours. It was a short visit. Oleg now weighs 75 kg and is 190 cm tall. He has lost 15 kg since he went on hunger strike," Kaplan said.

She told Oleg about rallies in his support and that Crimean Tatar activist Emir Usein Kuku had declared a hunger strike.

"He is very grateful that there are so many actions around his name, that people do not give up and continue to fight. At the same time, he is very disappointed that very little attention is being paid to other political prisoners, and believes that if he is the only one who gets released, it will be a complete disaster," she said.

According to her, Sentsov asks everyone who comes to him in Labytnangi to visit other political prisoners for whom he is fighting.

"In particular, he asks [Ukrainian ombudsman] Liudmyla Denisova, independent doctors who tried to come to him, consuls, Father Klyment, to visit other political prisoners so that no one forgets about them," Kaplan said.

She also said that Sentsov's health is now satisfactory, his condition is changing, his tests are not very great, but "there is nothing critical."

"He felt very bad yesterday, and okay today. He walked to me. His condition worsens in the evening. He says he feels a bit better now. The first three weeks of the hunger strike were the worst period. He is receiving intravenous treatment now. He would have been dead without it. He is not going to stop the hunger strike. He said he will keep fighting till the end and believes in his victory. He feels optimistic," Kaplan said. 

"As for entertainment, he watches TV, he writes, and he edits his old diaries. He asks not to send him books, as he has a lot of them already," she added. 

Political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, who was illegally sentenced to 20 years in a penal colony, went on hunger strike on May 14. He demands the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin. On May 28, Sentsov agreed to supportive therapy.

He started his hunger strike before the World Cup in Russia to draw the attention of as many people as possible.

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and activist Oleksandr Kolchenko were detained in Crimea on May 10, 2014. They were accused of staging terrorist attacks. Kolchenko was jailed for ten years and Sentsov for 20 years. 

In total, about 70 Ukrainian political prisoners are being held in Russia and in occupied Crimea, among them Ukrinform journalist Roman Sushchenko, who was sentenced to 12 years in a high-security penal colony for alleged espionage.


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