Oleg Sentsov’s letter on day 40 of his hunger strike protest: “Being not afraid is so simple.”

By Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian film maker and political prisoner, and others
06.23.2017 [June 23, 2018]
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

TV/film producer (TVINDIE Film Production) Yevgeny Gindilis posted the following on his Facebook page:

“Friends, here is the letter that Oleg Sentsov wrote today in the colony and asked to convey to everyone who has supported and supports him these days”:

Oleg Sentsov’s Letter Transcript:

“To those wearing the t-shirts and to everyone else!
Fellow cinema artists! Thank you all for what you’re doing. For not staying silent. It turns out that being not afraid is so simple, right? The first step is the hardest. Some made it long ago, and some only recently, but I thank each and every one of you for bravery. I understand that you are at risk in openly supporting me right now, while living in this country.

I won’t write or name any names or surnames, not because I don’t know them or not appreciate them, but because I’m afraid of forgetting someone or drawing special attention to someone. I’m thankful to all of you. The shift in the Soviet people’s public consciousness, which had let first to the Perestroika and then to freedom and a collapse of the empire – it all began when cinematographers started these changes with their congress in the 1980s. Perhaps you have the same mission and task: to destroy the even uglier empire that has been built and continues to evolve in your country [Russia]. Good luck with this! But also don’t forget to keep making beautiful movies!

Your Oleg Sentsov

June 22, 2018″

Source: Yevgeny Gindilis FB post

In addition, Anastasia Magazova, an independent Ukrainian journalist from Crimea, posted this on her FB page:

Ukrainian ombudsperson Lyudmila Denisova writes:
“Spoke with Oleg Sentsov’s lawyer, Dmitry Dinze. Today, Dmitry saw Oleg again.

He says that Oleg is very pale, does not move much, and barely gets out of bed. Doctors say that his receptors are already failing. A second crisis (the first one was on the 26th day of fasting) could occur at any moment. From that moment on, the lawyer assumes, they will begin force feeding him immediately.
The situation is dangerous!
Therefore, I appeal to the head of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, Gennady Kornienko, to immediately give me permission to visit Oleg Sentsov!”

Source: Anastasia Magazova

Summary of Sentsov’s case:
– convicted by the North Caucasus Military District Court to 20 years in prison on falsified charges of “creating a terrorist organization and committing two acts of terrorism;” filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who simply stood on Maidan and opposed Russia’s annexation and occupation of Crimea:
– was supposed to serve his sentence in Ukraine as part of a prisoner exchange deal;
– was subsequently denied that option on false grounds;
– is currently on the 27th day of an indefinite hunger strike, not for himself, but demanding the Kremlin release all Ukrainian political prisoners
– is 41 years old with 2 children and currently on his 43rd day [on June 25th] of hunger strike in critical condition

 

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Oleg Sentsov letter: “Everyone understands that I will not back down”

By Oleg Sentsov, shared by Tatiana Shchur, human rights activist
06.09.2017 [June 9, 2018]
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Oleg Sentsov, almost a year and a half ago, in SIZO-3 in Chelyabinsk, en route to Yakutia. Photo: Tatiana Shchur

Tatiana Shchur: EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THAT I WILL NOT BACK DOWN
A letter from Oleg Sentsov was received on June 7. Our letter with Nikolay Shchur, with greetings from [prominent political dissident of the 1950s-70s] Bukovsky, sent on May 31, was given to him on June 5. And here is the answer. With a request (which is totally not characteristic of Oleg) to write, “if there is, something interesting, but you know my needs: in point of fact, and for every day.” Yes, Oleg. We know what you are waiting for, what we are all waiting for. VICTORY. FREEDOM.
And, although I am against the publication of personal correspondence, I think that we have no right now to hide anything concerning his situation.
In the photo, Oleg almost a year and a half ago in SIZO-3 in Chelyabinsk. En route to Yakutia.
Read the letter.

Oleg Sentsov’s Letter Transcript:

“”Tatiano and Nikolai, hello! It’s nice to receive a letter from you with news in it. Thank you very much for the letter and for everything you do for me and Sasha [Kolchenko]. I know that he is now also on hunger strike, but where is he with his health and constitution? But it’s not necessary to persuade him not to, as  Bukovsky said correctly. If a person has decided, then he’s decided.

I am, by the way, not especially a fan of Bukovsky’s works, but I respect him as a person very much.

Give him a huge hello and thank him for the advice. True, I knew all of this before beginning my hunger strike, so I prepared for this step consciously, but nonetheless thank you for the concern. They take care of me well here. The doctor constantly examines me, analyses, examinations, drops. As to the fourth week of the flight, the pilot feels fine! Further, we will see, but everyone understands that I will not back down, so they are preparing options for the further preservation of my health. So do not worry about this yet. During the day, they have even transferred me from the cell to the local sanitary unit of the camp, giving me a separate ward. So I am now a sick prisoner, not just a prisoner. :))

More in principle, I have no other personal news. So write, if there is something interesting, but you know my needs: in point of fact, and for every day. Huge greetings to all of ours and to just good people.

Oleh. 06/07/18 “

Source: Tatiana Shchur FB

Summary of Sentsov’s case:
–  convicted by the North Caucasus Military District Court to 20 years in prison on falsified charges of “creating a terrorist organization and committing two acts of terrorism;” filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who simply stood on Maidan and opposed Russia’s annexation and occupation of Crimea:
– was supposed to serve his sentence in Ukraine as part of a prisoner exchange deal;
– was subsequently denied that option on false grounds;
– is currently on the 27th day of an indefinite hunger strike, not for himself, but demanding the Kremlin release all Ukrainian political prisoners

 

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A Crimean Tatar daughter’s letter to her unjustly imprisoned father on the 74th commemoration of the deportation of Crimean Tatars

By Anton Naumlyuk, Russian journalist and photographer who reports on numerous politically motivated prosecutions of Crimean Tatars and other Ukrainians in occupied Crimea and Russia
05.18.2018
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Anton Naumlyuk posts on his Facebook page:

Dzhepparova’s letter to her father. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk

“Daddy,
How are you, my beloved daddy? What are you you doing? I miss you very much. How do you eat there, what kind of food, and in general how is your mood? Is everything ok for you? (Crossed out) Who would know, how much I miss you. At night I think about you and sometimes I want to cry. But you’re hanging in there without weeping. Oh, I miss you, my beloved. I don’t know if I ever upset you, but if I had, tell me and I’ll be better, but I cannot keep these tears in. Sometimes I’ll go to someone’s room, sit and bawl, and think to myself: “Why did they take you away from me, they have no conscience at all.” And I want to say this to their faces. And now I’m writing this and it’s like a tear passed over my cheek. I want to demand that you be released. I want to go outside and shout for all the world to hear: “Return my father to me!” I love you, Papa.”

Evelina Dzhepparova, 7 years old. Draft letter sent to her father – Arsen Dzhepparov, a figure in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case. Published with the kind consent of the author. Arsen Dzhepparov is being threatened with up to 20 years imprisonment.

Source: Anton Naumlyuk FB page

Today marks the 74th commemoration of the 18 May 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland to Central Asia and Siberia, carried out over only 3 days, May 18-20th. Ukraine’s parliament approved a resolution in 2015 recognizing the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars in 1944 as genocide and May 18 as the Day of Remembrance of the victims.

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea, on May 18, 1944 on the grounds that they had allegedly collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

Hundreds of thousands were deported to Central Asia and Siberia. An estimated 40 percent of those deportees died during the journey or within a year of being exiled.

Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in the late 1980s, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Most Crimean Tatars openly opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014. Currently under Russian occupation, Crimean Tatars are being persecuted by the occupiers again daily, taken into custody and charged under false accusations with long prison sentences.

For more information:

Al Jazeera: watch video Coming Back: A History of Crimea’s Tatars

About Arsen Dzhepparov, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Crimean Tatars face 10 year sentences for refusal to testify against innocent men

NY TIMES: A Crimean Tatar Documents the Russian Annexation of her Homeland

 

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Well-known Ukrainians write letters to political prisoners Sentsov and Kolchenko

By HROMADSKE media
05.03.2018 13:00
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

HROMADSKE launches a pan-Ukraine flashmob #writealetter [#напишилиста].

Famous Ukrainians wrote letters to illegally held Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko as part of the filming of a new documentary project by Hromadske.

Among the people who joined the film project are film director Akhtym Seitablaev, actor Rimma Zyubina, writer Andrey Kurkov, singer Sasha Koltsova and theatrical director Galina Dzikaeva.

In their letters, the authors expressed their support for, and admiration of, the Ukrainian political prisoners’ willpower.

“Good day, Oleg. Maybe you don’t remember me, but I remember you. We met at the Odesa Film Festival in 2013. You were bringing your film “Gamer” and I was with my film “Backstreet Champions.” And we met there, like two men, like two directors from Crimea. And I just want to thank you for being. For the fact that you are a true example of a man who is not afraid. I cannot even imagine how difficult it is for you. How hard it is there for you. I just want you to know – I personally remember you. And I believe that you will return to us as soon as possible. And you will again start filming, the awesome movies that you do. Take care of yourself, friend, and return home to us,” wrote Akhtym Seitablaev in his letter to Oleg.

Labytnangi (in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug of the Tyumen oblast, Russia, location of the penal colony No. 8 “Belyi Vedmіd” [“White Bear”], in which Sentsov is being held–ed.). I’ve known this word since childhood. When I was a little girl, my parents’ best friend moved there for work, with his family. When my parents’ friends came on vacation to Uzhhorod, my mother laid the table, Dad took up the bayan [accordion], music and laughter sounded. I also believe that in my lifetime, there will be a day when you too, Oleg, will return from the mystical station of “Labytnangi” – actor Rimma Zyubina writes in her letter to Sentsov.

In his letter to Oleksandr Kolchenko, Seitablaev caught onto the hope that we will all meet in Ukrainian Crimea:

“Good day, Oleksandr. You don’t know me but I know you, because you are from Crimea and I am also from Crimea. My name is Akhtym Seitablaev, I’m a movie director. I have not been in Crimea for four years, ever since it was occupied. But I believe, and have a great hope, that we will meet there together soon.

I am proud of such men as you. Thank you for your courage, your dignity and your endurance. This may sound rather melodramatic, but it’s men like you, Oleg, that parents will hold up as an example to their sons when telling them what kind of men they should grow up to be.

I know that there are no words that would make your situation there easier. But you just know that all of us, myself included, remember you. And each of us, in our own role, are doing everything that depends on us [to do] to ensure that you return as quickly as possible. At first to Ukraine, for now unfortunately without Crimea. And later, in the near future, we will all meet in Crimea together. In Ukrainian Crimea. Sit on the beach, drink a glass of wine, eat shashlyk [skewered barbecued meat] – or just sit in silence and watch the sea. Take care, friend.”

“Nearby, a journalist and a camera operator are filming as I write a letter to you, for the video in your support. You are remembered and often talked of in the media. Everyone hopes that before the elections they will exchange you and Sentsov. Regardless of whom they choose, I hope that it happens.” –Oleksandra Koltsova

“People follow parallel paths in life, not always meeting with each other, but staying aware and up to date on each other, in a good, curious sense. That’s how I’ve been following you and your work for a long time, and I’m looking forward to the possibility of meeting you in person,” – writes Andrey Kurkov in his letter to Sentsov. “Kyiv remembers you and awaits you. Your books come out and are discussed, time passes – stolen from you and from us. But I believe that you will soon return and we will have your new books and films. I await. From Kyiv, yours, Andrey Kurkov.”

Director Galina Dzhikaeva to Oleksandr Kolchenko: “I got myself a black cat like yours. Only yours has a page in Facebook, and mine has only toys. I follow your cat on Facebook. I read his posts. Together we wait for you.”

“Dear Oleksandr. We don’t know each other personally, but for several years now, along with other citizens of Ukraine, I have been following your fate and awaiting your return home. In Kyiv, everyone is waiting for spring, sometimes it’s raining, in the morning there is mist. But the mood itself is changing for the better, although the sense of anxiety is still there. Including anxiety for your destiny also. Take care of yourself and remember that Kyiv and all of Ukraine are waiting for you to come home,”- Kurkov in his letter to Kolchenko.

“Hi, Oleg. We haven’t closely communicated before. In Crimea, it probably would’ve been unfeasible; we were very different people. Now much has changed. And when you return, I’d very much like to see you and to have a deep, meaningful conversation. We are all waiting for you: in the theater, on the set, in the Kyiv cafés, and on the embankments of our big river and our small sea. Write. We are waiting. –Galya Dzhikaeva.

All these letters have already been delivered to the addressees. You can send your support letters to Oleg and Oleksandr at the following addresses [to make sure the letters will reach them, please write in Russian only, with nothing overtly political in the content]:

Letter to Oleksandr Kolchenko:
456612
Russian Federation
Chelyabinsk region Kopeisk, st. Kemerovskaya 20, IK-6
Kolchenko Alexandra Aleksandrovich, 1989 b.

456612
Российская Федерация
Челябинская обл. Копейск, ул. Кемеровская 20, ИК-6
Кольченко Александру Александровичу, 1989 г. р.

Letter to Oleg Sentsov:
629400
Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area Okrug, Labytnangi, ul. North 33
FKU IK-8 UFSIN of Russia for YNAO
Sentsov Oleg Gennadievich, 1976 b.

629400
Ямало-Ненецкий авт. округ, г. Лабытнанги, ул. Северная 33
ФКУ ИК-8 УФСИН России по ЯНАО
Сенцову Олегу Геннадьевичу, 1976 г. р.

Source: Hromadske.ua

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Stanislav Klykh: “Death becomes desirable” – letter from prison

By Pavel Kanygin, special correspondent to Novaya Gazeta, re: letter from Ukrainian political prisoner in Russia Stanislav Klykh
04.15.2018
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

In his letter from the Verkhneuralsk [penal] colony [Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia] to special correspondent Pavel Kanygin, Ukrainian Stanislav Klykh talks about prison life and says that he is now refusing to eat, demanding a transfer to another institution of the FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service]. Klykh also complains about the inaction of Ukrainian authorities who, in his opinion, are not taking the necessary efforts to free their citizens. In an earlier letter to Klykh, the editors asked about his everyday life and expectations regarding the exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kyiv.

To recap earlier events: in 2016 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic sentenced school history teacher Stanislav Klykh to 20 years in a maximum-security colony for participating in the first Chechen war on the side of the separatists. Russian security officials arrested Klykh in August of 2014, when he arrived in Orel, Russia while visiting an acquaintance. Later, the Ukrainian was sent to Chechnya, where the [court] process began. Another Ukrainian citizen, Mykola Karpyuk, was tried as part of the same proceedings as Klykh. In addition to Klykh and Karpyuk, the investigators also accused Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the “Right Sector” movement (banned in the Russian Federation), of participation in the Chechen war. The Ukrainians’ lawyers and human rights activists said that the process was political and pointed out numerous mistakes and inconsistencies in the indictment. Klykh and Karpuk themselves did not admit their guilt, claiming in court that they had perjured themselves after being tortured with electric shocks. The Grozny court ignored their statements.

The envelope of Stanislav Klykh’s letter –addressed to Pavel Kanygin

Stanislav Klykh’s letter to Novaya Gazeta:

Hello, Pavel!

I received your letter of 30.03.2018. So to avoid any issues with censorship, I’m not going to write anything about everyday life in prison. I have a TV set, which picks up 5 channels (NTV, TVC, “Culture,” “OTV-Verkhneuralsk” and “Match!” [sports channel]); I’m not allowed an antenna for stronger TV reception, nor a radio. [The prison has] a radio receiver, which occasionally plays radio stations based from Uchaly (Bashkiria), Magnitogorsk and Ufa.

I am demanding a transfer to another institution of the FSIN – to this end, I am refusing breakfast and lunch. I can say that local food, unlike the one I was getting in the Grozny SIZO [pre-trial detention], is disgusting and inedible.

My chances for the transfer aren’t looking good – it seems that the jailers here have hunkered down to avoid any possible inspections from Moscow in the unlikely case that I do get transferred. It’s more likely that they keep me here and start force-feeding me.

I’m bored of the TV (I’ve had the Horizont TV set since October 2017), and mostly, of the books as well. On 20.03 the consul brought me giant encyclopedias about the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Tyumen oblasts [of Russia]. In theory, they can be an interesting read, to learn about the territory where I’m held. The most difficult thing is to overcome the pain in my eyes, caused by the enclosed space, lack of oxygen and nervous strain; some prisoners actually lose their eyesight in these conditions. In prison, time passes much more slowly during the day than at night. You just want to fall asleep and not wake up, death becomes desirable. Reading the letters brings some relief, as they bring the feeling of hope. I believe that prisoners must have access to the internet and social networks in order to defend their rights, contest their verdicts and form public opinions, as well as access to so-called “porn.” I’m sure there would be much less suicidal behaviour in that case. Obviously, this isolation is beneficial for the opponents, because it strips the convicts of the opportunity to influence their situation by attempting to change the verdict, improve their prison conditions, etc.

Concerning any work that the Ukrainian authorities may be doing to ensure my exchange or freedom, I can say that I don’t have the full picture of the events, due to lack of access to information.

For two years now (three, even!), I get New Year’s greetings from President Poroshenko and [Ukrainian Foreign] Minister Klimkin.

For almost a year after my detention, the consuls were “unaware” of my location, and only started visiting me after I’d been transferred to the Grozny SIZO. How can I be satisfied with their “efforts” if I’m still not home? Based on this, I can conclude that the situation is controlled by a certain pool of media oligarchs and special services, from both sides, who decide who should be let go and who should stay in prison. Some (Grytsenko, Gubarev, Yurchenko) are allowed to walk almost right away; others, apparently due to specific reasons or allegiances, have to spend years waiting for their exchange/freedom.

Immediately after my arrest, in the Yessentuki temporary detention facility, I learned that Dmitry Soin was arrested in Kyiv in August 2014; apparently, there were plans to exchange him for me. But today, Soin is acting as the authorized person of Sergey Baburin for the [Russian presidential] election (until 18.03.2018); turns out that he was let go, as was Klinchayev. Now, thanks to my mother and, to a large degree, to you, the issue with Victor Ageyev is on the table; I hope it will finally get a positive resolution, to mine and his mutual benefit.

Pavel! I’ve been sent the article by Rimma Akhmirova [contributor to the Sobesednik newspaper – ed.] of 14.02.2018, titled “Welcomed Among Strangers.” Please let her know that I am not, and never have been, an activist for the “Right Sector.” From 2004 to 2014, that is, until my arrest in Orel, I was a member of the Party of Regions, which can be proven by my party ID card, which, hopefully, survives back in Kyiv. I have worked on developing PR offices in Kyiv, specifically in the Dniepr and Obolonsky rains [districts], and organized the work of party headquarters and election commissions.

Because of this, I request that I’m not referred to as a political prisoner – at the time of my entry into Russia, I was fairly tolerant (apolitical) towards the Russian Federation authorities and the Russian political system, which is more than can be said about my views on them today.

Unlike Karpyuk, I had not been lured out to negotiate with the Russian authorities. I crossed the border without incident, and was arrested the following day in Orel, which I was visiting by invitation of Victoria Simonova-Skobeleva, whom I had met in Crimea previously, long before the Maidan events.

Klykh’s letter from prison to Novaya Gazeta’s Pavel Kanygin

Due to this, I request that both you and Rimma refer to me in the future as “Stanislav Klykh, sex tourist from Kyiv.” It is a well-known fact of Crimean life that Russian women are easier than Ukrainian ones.

Pavel! Come visit Verkhneuralsk – this year, the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Dutov Rebellion. Verkhneuralsk was the rebellion’s stronghold. Attorney Ilya Novikov mentioned that 100 years ago, mass executions happened here. Let’s talk about restoring peaceful relations.

Stanislav Klykh, Verkhneuralsk, FKU-T

Source: Novaya Gazeta

VoU note: Stanislav Klykh was convicted to 20 years of imprisonment after being declared guilty of the killing of Russian soldiers during the Chechen war. This happened despite the fact that the Ukrainian assured he had never taken part in combat and never even visited Chechnya. On October 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic refused to set free Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpyuk.

Further reading:

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