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Ukraine's human rights commissioner is denied access to political prisoner Oleg Sentsov

Source: Meduza

Things were going so well. Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova made it to Russia, where she would visit the imprisoned filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who’s a month deep into a life-threatening hunger strike. Her Russian counterpart, Tatyana Moskalkova, was supposed to go to Ukraine and meet Kirill Vyshinsky, a Russian journalist now jailed in Kyiv.

But on June 15, officials in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Sentsov’s new home in Siberia, told Denisova that she couldn’t meet him. Moskalkova says Denisova came to Russia too soon, before she reciprocally went to Ukraine, violating the agreement between Moscow and Kyiv.

Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea. There has been an international campaign to lobby for his release. Read Meduza’s summary of why his case matters here. Sentsov has been on a hunger strike calling for the release of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners since May 14.

During his live call-in show on in early June, Vladimir Putin said he isn’t currently considering exchanging Sentsov for Vyshinsky. The president argued that Sentsov was convicted of plotting terrorist attacks, while Vyshinsky was arrested in Ukraine last month for his actions as a journalist. “You can’t compare these things,” Putin explained.