Kolchenko's mother says Russia forcing son to take Russian citizenship
Crimea resident Oleksandr Kolchenko, who on May 31 went on hunger strike in a Russian penal colony, is being forced to accept Russian citizenship, U.S.-government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Friday, citing Kolchenko's mother, Larysa Kolchenko.
"First, the conversation begins with 'How bad it is in Ukraine and how good it is in Russia," after which the blackmailing begins. They then tell him, 'Your parents have remained in Crimea, you should take Russian citizenship.' ...And then they ask him to sign a Russian passport," Larysa Kolchenko told RFE/RL.
According to Larysa, if Oleksandr accepts Russian citizenship, Ukraine will not be able to influence his release in any way.
As earlier reported, Kolchenko's hunger strike is in support of another Ukrainian political prisoner, film director Oleh Sentsov, who is also in a Russian jail.
As reported, the Northern Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don in August 2015 sentenced Sentsov, who was detained in Crimea in 2014, to 20 years in a high-security penal colony in August 2015 for an attempt to create a so-called terrorist group in Crimea. Kolchenko was charged within the same case and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Early in May 2016, Sentsov and Kolchenko filled in documents for serving their terms in Ukraine, but Russia declined to hand over the papers, claiming the two had allegedly acquired Russian citizenship.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry stresses that both Sentsov and Kolchenko made official statements during court hearings that they had never applied to the Russian authorities for Russian citizenship and were not going to seek it, as they are citizens of Ukraine but Russia does not recognize their Ukrainian citizenship.
The ministry says that the Russian Federation's attempts to impose its citizenship on Ukrainian citizens who live in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea is a flagrant violation of the norms and principles of international humanitarian law and the obligations of the Russian Federation as an occupying state stemming from Article 45 of the Hague Convention of 1907 and Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.