On June 28, the Voice of America’s Russian service reported that Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudswoman Ludmila Denisova was not allowed to see Ukrainian prisoner and filmmaker Oleh Sentsov at the prison in Russia where he is being held. Sentsov has been on a hunger strike for 46 days and, according to his lawyer, has been experiencing heart and kidney problems, with prison doctors warning that a health crisis was “imminent.”
Also on June 28, Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatiana Moskalkova visited the prison and claimed Sentsov was healthy, claiming he had even gained weight. As to why Denisova was not allowed to see Sentsov, Moskalkova told Interfax that the FSIN (Russian correctional service) authorities could not allow her access because she is a foreign citizen, while Sentsov is a citizen of Russia.
Sentsov was born in Crimea, which was invaded by Russian soldiers in 2014 and annexed by Russia following a vote the United Nations called invalid.
Sentsov remains a citizen of Ukraine. Russian authorities are well aware of this and have repeatedly admitted this. For example, the indictment document for Sentsov from 2015 lists him as a citizen of Ukraine, with information from his Ukrainian passport and no references to a Russian passport.
More importantly, the administration of the prison where Sentsov is currently held identified him as a Ukrainian citizen in an official notice sent to Ukraine’s consulate in Russia. A photograph of that notice can be found below:
A Ukrainian government official confirmed for Polygraph.info that that the Ukrainian consulates received notice from Russian prison authorities stating that they were holding a citizen of Ukraine at their facility.
Oleh Sentsov, along with several other Ukrainian citizens, was tried and convicted of terrorism in Russia after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. The evidence in the case was extremely weak, leading most observers to label the conviction politically motivated. He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.