Support The Moscow Times!

Crimean Filmmaker Issues Will on 120th Day of Hunger Strike, Cousin Says

Oleg Sentsov (Valeriy Matytsin / TASS)

Oleg Sentsov, the jailed Ukrainian filmmaker on hunger strike in Russian prison, has reportedly told his cousin that he has left a will over fears that he may not survive his protest.

Crimean native Sentsov announced a hunger strike 121 days ago seeking the release of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia while serving a 20-year prison sentence on a terrorism conviction. Russian authorities have ignored proposals to swap the vocal critic of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea for Russians held in Ukraine, while Sentsov has refused to ask for a pardon from President Vladimir Putin.

Sentsov’s cousin, Natalia Kaplan, said Sentsov wrote her a letter in which he says: “I no longer believe in a happy end to this story.”

“What’s truly worrying is that he left a will on his body of work in case of his death,” Kaplan said in a Facebook post Monday.

In the letter, Sentsov wrote that his organs were not being oxygenated and described his condition as “simply living by inertia.” His lawyer says the filmmaker has suffered “irreversible changes affecting the cardiovascular system, kidneys and liver.”

“[My] head is foggy, everything is spinning, [my] body, head and limbs are going numb,” Sentsov was quoted as writing by Kaplan.

According to doctors who treat him in prison cited by human rights activists, his organs are about to start shutting down.

Meanwhile, the Federal Prison Service’s branch in northern Russia’s Yamal-Nenets autonomous district said Tuesday that Sentsov was in “fair” condition and was being fed a mix of nutrients. It said doctors were monitoring his condition and promised to hospitalize Sentsov as soon as his health deteriorated.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.