Nataliya Kaplan, the sister of Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov, talks about the conditions of his stay in a Russian prison.
What kind of camera Oleg has, and what conditions he is in – this is all secret information. You can’t tell Oleg or anyone else about this. I only know that he lives in a barracks of a high-security colony. And also the fact that the law prohibits keeping in the same cell those who have been convicted before and those who have been convicted for the first time.
There is no forced labor in this colony. Oleg does not work there. Even for those prisoners who would like to work in order not to get bored, there is not always work to be found.
Unfortunately, there are no human rights defenders who would monitor Oleg’s stay in prison. But I think that this does not threaten him. After all, this colony is not considered arbitrary. Everything there is quite normal and tolerable.
Only every tenth letter reaches Oleg if it is sent from Russia. And letters from abroad do not arrive at all. And this is not only the case with Oleg, but often with everyone. This is one of the ways of putting pressure on political prisoners in Russia. Sometimes we call each other. Parcels with sweets and fruits are allowed once every three months. They reach
Oleg is not ready to see anyone yet. He says it is emotionally difficult. He himself refused to meet with his relatives. If in the future he has such a desire, then, of course, his mother will go to him.
He reads a lot. He liked, for example, the novel “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. He also reads Andrii Platonov. We often send him new books. He takes some books from the prison library.
While in prison, Oleg wrote four screenplays. He keeps their content a secret. I only know that one of them is, according to Oleg, a children’s movie for adults. It tells the story of a young man. He does not want to forward these scripts until he is released. He says that they will go free with him.
Snow fell in Yakutia already in August. And in winter it reaches -60. Oleg gradually adapts to the frost. He says he is not sick.
We wanted to file a lawsuit so that Oleg was transferred closer to the place of residence. But he himself refused it. Because the conditions in Yakutia are even less bearable. And it is not known how it will be in another colony located further south. It could be much worse out there. Therefore, we abandoned this idea. Also, the very process of moving from one colony to another is hell itself. Cold, hungry and everything is just terrible.
In Russia, we lost all the courts. And now we are only waiting for the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. They just accepted the case for consideration. But even if we win it, it will not significantly change the situation. They can only tell the Russian judges to review the case. To be honest, I do not believe in the European Court of Human Rights. Oleg Sentsov’s release depends only on negotiations between politicians.
Oleg is aware of everything that happens around his name. All the support actions, official statements, collective letters, appeals from foreign filmmakers… He was especially pleased with Johnny Depp, who spoke in his support. This is very important to him.
The main thing now is not to let them forget about this case. Keep the problem afloat, remind about it and put pressure on politicians. Write letters, organize actions… And put pressure on politicians, because only they can solve this case. Perhaps it will be possible to get foreign politicians to introduce sanctions against Russia, which would relate to the release of political prisoners.
On February 11, the premiere of Askold Kurov’s documentary film “The Process” will take place at the Berlin Film Festival. The Russian state against Oleg Sentsov”. It will tell about how, after the annexation of Crimea, the Russian special services arrested, accused of terrorism and tried the Ukrainian director, sentencing him to 20 years in prison. This case is completely fabricated. There is no evidence that Sentsov led a terrorist organization in Crimea.