Jailed Crimean film director Oleh Sentsov says that his “limbs are going numb” nearly four months into a hunger strike and that he no longer believes his ordeal in a Russian prison will have a “happy ending,” his cousin says.
“There’s a fog in my head. Everything is spinning, my body, my head, and my limbs are going numb,” Natalya Kaplan – in a Facebook post on September 11 – quoted Mr. Sentsov as saying in a letter he sent her from prison.
“I have not given up, in any case. It’s just that I don’t believe in a happy ending to this whole story,” she quoted him as saying.
Mr. Sentsov, a Crimean native who opposed Russia’s 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, is serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted of terrorism in a trial that he, human rights groups, and Western governments contend was politically motivated.
Imprisoned in the far northern Yamalo-Nenets region of Russia, Mr. Sentsov started a hunger strike on May 14, demanding that Russia release 64 fellow Ukrainians he considers political prisoners.
“My condition is about the same: stably lousy,” he wrote, according to Ms. Kaplan. “To all the old special effects, hypoxia – a shortage of oxygen in the organs, mainly the heart and brain – has been added. …My circulatory system is not handling the job of supplying oxygen to the organism.”
“I no longer believe that I will soon walk free and that we will all live happily in Kyiv,” he wrote.
According to Human Rights Watch, which cited a lawyer for Mr. Sentsov, he agreed to begin taking an oral nutritional supplement at some point in the past two months, after suffering his first health crisis.
The lawyer said he agreed to take the supplement – normally given to people who are unconscious or cannot swallow food – only under the threat of force-feeding, and that he takes only enough to keep him alive.
The plight of Mr. Sentsov, 42, has drawn expressions of support from artists around the world and calls from Western governments for his release.
In August, the Kremlin rejected a plea by Mr. Sentsov’s mother for a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and nothing has come of frequent talk of a potential prisoner exchange that would send him home to Ukraine.
Copyright 2018, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036; www.rferl.org (see https://www.rferl.org/a/sentsov-losing-hope-for-happy-ending-to-russian-prison-ordeal/29483701.html).