Natalia Kaplan, the cousin of Oleg Sentsov (the imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker now 87 days into a hunger strike), says Sentsov’s health is now “catastrophically bad.” Kaplan says she received a letter from her cousin through his lawyer, where Sentsov claims to be bedridden and “near the end.” She says her cousin told her that he’s living in an “information vacuum” and isn’t receiving any correspondence. He apparently even asked if anyone has shown interest in his hunger strike, which has generated news headlines around the world.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service insists that Sentsov’s condition is “satisfactory,” and says he’s receiving treatment for his health. The inmate’s lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, previously warned that his client is in serious danger.
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 is hunger striking for the release of Russia’s “Ukrainian political prisoners.” During Vladimir Putin's live call-in show in early June, the president rejected a proposal to exchange the filmmaker for Kirill Vyshinsky, a Russian-Ukrainian journalist arrested in Kyiv in May on treason charges. Putin argued that Sentsov was convicted of plotting terrorist attacks, while Vyshinsky’s charges relate to his actions as a journalist. “You can’t compare these things,” Putin said.