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Dmitry Bykov: Let's Not Be Silent About Oleg Sentsov! [Ekho Moskvy]

posted 18 Jun 2018, 11:14 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 18 Jun 2018, 11:17 ]

5 June 2018

By Dmitry Bykov, writer, poet, journalist 

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Ekho Moskvy]

Oleg Sentsov's fate will be determined in the near future. Either he will survive, or he will die.

Some people have already written that he is not a film director, or that, at least, it is unimportant when we speak about his hunger strike: now he is, first and foremost, a victim of arbitrariness and defends ordinary human rights. But he has proved his professionalism as a director: the situation is perfectly arranged. He went on a hunger strike 30 days before the FIFA World Cup, so by the start of the tournament the matter of his life and death will be a very live issue. He resorted to using his life as his finalweapon. He has no other possible variant in the struggle that he has to become a part of. Sentsov has achieved his goal: he is the one who is now laying down conditions. But Sentsov may lose his life, and Russia may lose its reputation, a reputation that already leaves much to be desired. To mark the beginning of the World Cup with news of the death of a Ukrainian citizen, who was "annexed" to Russia along with Crimea would not be very far from the best start. And this is the most that can be achieved by a single person today.

There are not many variants as to what will happen to Oleg Sentsov: either he will be force-fed (which is equivalent to torture), or he will die, or he will be exchanged. And in either variant, Sentsov's main demand - that all Ukrainian political prisoners be either released or exchanged - will remain unfulfilled, and indeed it is hardly achievable. It is not yet clear whether he will agrees to change his demands. Evidently, he has taken the decision to die because his life for the last three years has not been much better than death (and some would say, it has been even worse). There is not much we can do. We must speak up about his case as loudly as possible. And as often as possible. To remind people of Sentsov in the face of all the reports of successes, of all the triumphant announcements about the World Cup, about bridges built and about popular support. And I am almost sure that Russia will indeed play host to this championship at the highest level. It is the kind of thing the country can do . The problem is just that from now on all significant internal political events must be timed to coincide with championships and festivals, so that human rights defenders or political prisoners will die before the very eyes of foreign guests. Of course, it is humiliating and unpatriotic. It would be more patriotic if all the dissenters commit suicide, having left all their worldly wealth to the treasury. But it somehow seems to me that nowadays there are so many of them that it won't be possible to persuade them all.

Translated by Anna Dvoryanchikova