"Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was recognized by Memorial human rights movement as a political prisoner, is on an indefinite hunger strike right now demanding to release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. Those who know Sentsov are sure that he will go all the way. We demand to bring Sentsov back to his homeland, to Ukraine. Oleh Sentsov’s death would be a disgrace to Russia and would bring eternal dishonor upon those who could have saved him but never did it. We are asking the participants of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum to support our statement," the appeal says.
The statement was signed by about 130 Russian journalists, translators, writers, and historians, including Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Maria Falikman, Viktor Shenderovich, Boris Sokolov and many others. The statement was also endorsed by Belarussian writer, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich.
As reported, Sentsov is serving a sentence in the maximum security labor camp in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. This prison's inmates are serving sentences for commission of grave and especially grave crimes.
Sentsov was detained by the Russian FSB Security Service in Russian-occupied Crimea in 2014 together with activist Oleksandr Kolchenko. They were brought to Russia and tried in a trumped-up case on charges of organizing acts of terror and arson on the peninsula. On Aug. 25, 2015, Sentsov and Kolchenko were sentenced to 20 years' and 10 years' in prison, respectively. On Oct. 21, 2016, Russia refused to extradite the two Ukrainians to Ukraine, claiming they had automatically acquired Russian citizenship after the annexation of Crimea.
Sentsov’s sister Natalia Kaplan said March 16, 2018 that her brother reported on his failing health in a letter. He in particular said that he is losing his hair and has his teeth crumbling into small pieces.
On May 14, 2018, the fillmmaker said he went on an indefinite hunger strike demanding to release all Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia.