Ukraine expresses support for Sentsov on his birthday, again demands that Russia release him
Director Oleh Sentsov, unlawfully convicted in Russia, turned 43 years old, and the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine again demanded his release.
"Today Ukraine's filmmaker Oleh Sentsov marks his 43rd birthday. He has been in Russian prison for six years already, illegally detained and sentenced. We stand together with Oleh and reiterate the demand to release him," the ministry wrote on Twitter.
In addition, the U.S. Embassy to Ukraine welcomed Sentsov's courage. "Our thoughts today are with Oleh Sentsov, who is spending his birthday in Russian custody. We salute Sentsov's courage and determination and join the people of Ukraine in calling for Russia to immediately release all Ukrainian political prisoners. #FreeSentsov," it said on Twitter.
Sentsov was detained in Crimea in 2014. In August 2015, he was sentenced to 20 years in a high-security penitentiary by the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don for conspiracy to commit terrorism. Sentsov denies all charges.
Sentsov went on hunger strike on May 14, 2018, demanding the release of all Ukrainians being held in Russia "for political reasons." Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) Deputy Director Valery Maximenko told Interfax on October 5 that Sentsov was ending his hunger strike and agreed in writing to start eating.
Sentsov said he did so under the threat of force-feeding. The statement was posted by Sentsov's lawyer Dmitry Dinze. The filmmaker said the goal of his hunger strike was not achieved.