“The flight continues well” is a reference to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight on the Vostok (“East”).
By Oleg Sentsov, shared by Tatiana Shchur, human rights activist
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Tatiana Shchur: Here is a letter from Oleg Sentsov, sent from SIZO-1 [detention facility] of Kirov, on September 27, 2017. There is so much irony, humor and dignity in it! He sends his greetings to Sasha [Olexander] Kolchenko, convinced that “Tundra can take care of himself!” In fact, Tundra [Kolchenko’s nickname] is currently receiving a visit from his mother…
“Nikolay and Tatiana, hello!
“I’m writing to you from Kirov, while on my way through here. I was recently passing through your area [Chelyabinsk] on another complimentary trip organized for me by the Russian FSIN [Penitentiary Service], meals and extended security included. 🙂 🙂 I’m going from Yakutia [Sakha Republic] to Yamal [Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug], through Siberia and Ural.
“I’ve figured that over these past three-plus years, thanks to this Russian travel agency, I’ve seen all of Russia’s great rivers: Volga, Kama, Ob, Yenisei, and Lena. I even saw a bit of Lake Baikal from the window of an air prison, on the chartered flight from Yakutsk to Irkutsk. Now I’m going to look at Ob again, and even temporarily reside somewhere around its eponymous Guba [the Gulf of Ob]! 🙂 ))
“The place is called Labytnangi (I hope I spelled that right), it’s somewhere close to Kharp, the “Snowy Owl” [maximum security prison] and polar bears. Arctic night and northern lights guaranteed. In my opinion, it would be very stupid to turn down such a tempting offer, especially since no-one really asked for my opinion. 🙂 )
“Along the way, I’ve seen several places considered “scary”: Irkutsk, Omsk, now Kirov. Didn’t collect any bumps, and did not observe any humiliating treatment or physical violence. It’s institutional treatment alright, but it’s all “if you please.” Are the times changing, or are they faking it well? Hopefully, the former.
“I didn’t receive any of your letters while in Yakutia, even though I know you wrote to me. I wrote one myself, but it looks like it also failed to arrive. Yakutia is some kind of black hole in this respect.
“Overall, I’m doing okay, feeling fine, the flight continues well 🙂 ). Send my greetings to all our people!
“Don’t write to this address, obviously: they’re moving people around fast now, so I’ll be on my way before you even get this letter. (Hopefully, you will get it, unless Kirov is like Yakutia).
“With this, I will take my leave.
“My separate hello to Sasha Kolchenko. I’m sure he’s doing okay: Tundra can take care of himself! 🙂 )
“All the best!
Source: Tatiana Shchur FB
Summary of Sentsov’s case:
– convicted by the North Caucasus Military District Court to 20 years in prison on charges of “creating a terrorist organization and committing two acts of terrorism;”
– was supposed to serve his sentence in Ukraine as part of a prisoner exchange deal;
– was subsequently denied that option on false grounds;
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