October 6, 2017

Russia’s missing hostage

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One thing we need to understand about Oleh Sentsov is that he is a hostage.

One thing we need to always remember about Oleh Sentsov is that he is a Ukrainian citizen who was illegally seized from Ukraine’s illegally seized territory by the Russian security services.

And one thing we need to know about Oleh Sentsov right now is that we don’t really know exactly where he is.

The renowned Ukrainian filmmaker, of course, was detained in Crimea by the FSB and convicted on trumped-up terrorism charges at a show trial back in 2015.

He was given a 20-year sentence and imprisoned, first in Yakutia and later in Irkutsk.

But for almost a month, his exact whereabouts have been a mystery.

In early September, reports surfaced that Mr. Sentsov had been transferred from a prison in Irkutsk to one in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk.

But since that time his defense lawyers have been claiming that, in fact, they don’t know where he is.

And last week, a letter Mr. Sentsov managed to smuggle out of prison via a journalist claimed that he was, in fact, being transferred to Russia’s northernmost prison camp in the Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Region.

In his letter, Mr. Sentsov wrote that the authorities’ habit of moving him from one location to another is a form of torture.

“Nobody touches me physically,” he wrote, but added that “this system can punish you in a perverted fashion and torture without using brute force.”

So we don’t know where Oleh Sentsov is.

But we do know that Russia is again tormenting its most famous foreign hostage.

Copyright 2017, 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/daily-vertical-transcript-russia-missing-hostage/28768685.html).

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