In the days between writing this news and it being published, there exists a very real possibility that Oleg Sentsov will die. At the time of writing, Sensov has been on a hunger strike in a Russian jail for 90 days. In public statements, relatives of Sentsov have said his time is nearly at an end.
Sentsov was arrested and charged with terrorism offenses by the Russian occupying authorities in Crimea, his homeland. Sentsov’s “crime”: to object to Russia’s annexation. His stance was a particularly dangerous one for the Kremlin owing to the fact that as a renowned award-winning filmmaker, his is a voice of influence. In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and the territories illegally controlled by Russia, however, dissent is not permitted, especially so when that dissent comes from a strong voice others respect.
Sentsov declared at the beginning of his hunger strike that he would refuse food until all political hostages held by or in Russia were freed, of which there are 70. It is reported that Putin himself has commented privately about this matter, saying that he is happy to let Sentsov die in jail “as a lesson to others” that he will not be blackmailed. Imagine that, while a great man stands on principle and risks his life to make a statement and demand freedom for political prisoners, Putin is the one who feels personally aggrieved.