Dozens of Kharkivites joined the all-Ukrainian action “Freedom for Captives” timed to coincide with the birthday of the political prisoner Oleh Sentsov on July 13.
People gathered in the afternoon on the ground near the Kharkiv Opera and Ballet Theatre to support illegally imprisoned Ukrainians, who were arrested and kidnapped in annexed Crimea and all over the occupied territory of Donbas since 2014. The participants were holding photos of their relatives and friends or the prisoners they wanted to support, including Oleh Sentsov, Ukrainian filmmaker.
Oleh Sentsov was 42 on July 13, which marked his fourth birthday in a Russian prison. Obviously, it could be his last one as the Kremlin’s most famous Ukrainian hostage has been on hunger strike since May 14, making it his 61st day of self-starvation. He made it clear that he will not give up until Russia releases him and other Ukrainian political prisoners. Therefore, he will either set free or die.
“We want Sentsov to know that we have not forgotten him, that we are fighting for him,” says Svitlana Avashko, one of the action’s participants. “They put pressure on Sentsov and lie to him to subdue him. But we are with him.”
Civil activists called on people throughout the world to join them to support Oleh Sentsov.
The participants of the action demanded the release of all citizens of Ukraine illegally imprisoned by Russia and to include the bill on the rehabilitation of former prisoners on the agenda for discussion by the Ukrainian Parliament.
Similar actions took place in Lviv, Dnipro, Kropyvnytskyi, Sumy, Chernihiv and Kyiv.
Today, more than 113 Ukrainian citizens are detained in Kremlin prisons, among them more than 70 political hostages both military and civilian. In addition, over 300 Ukrainians are considered to be missing.
Text: Olena Sokolynska