Oleg Sentsov, who demands that the Russian authorities release all Ukrainians jailed in Russia and Crimea, went on hunger strike on May, 14.
He is serving a 20-year sentence in a prison on the Yamal Peninsula.
Sentsov is ready to die if the demand is not met, he told his defense lawyer. At the moment, there are 64 Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and Crimea.
In August 2015, a Russian court sentenced Oleg Sentsov to 20 years of imprisonment. He was found guilty of an “attempt to organize a ‘cell of ‘Right Sector’ [Ukrainian right-wing organisation] in Crimea”. The trial was held in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, The case was considered by North Caucasus District Military Court. The film director did not admit his guilt.
The charge was based on the testimony of Alexey Chyrny and Gennady Afanasiev. In court Afanasiev withdrew evidence saying that he had been tortured in jail.
It is impossible to swap Sentsov for any Russian prisoner in Ukraine, because after the annexation of Crimea Russia started considering the Ukrainian director a citizen of Russia.
A group of renowned Western actors and directors stood up for Oled Sentsov and asked the Russian authorities to release him. Andrzej Wajda, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp, Wim Wenders and others are among the petitioners. Amnesty International and Russian human rights center Memorial recognised Sentsov prisoner of conscience.