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Russia: Take Action for Oleg Sentsov on his Birthday

Friday 13 July 2018 - 12:23am

Oleg Sentsov

Today, 13 July, is Oleg Sentsov’s 42nd birthday. This will be the fourth birthday he spends behind bars, away from his family. He will be on day 61 of his hunger strike, calling for the release of imprisoned Ukrainians in Russia.

Sentsov’s cousin, Natalia Kaplan, visited him in prison earlier this month. He has reportedly lost 15 kg. Speaking to the press, she said:

Yesterday he was very bad, today he’s feeling normal. He’s getting worse in the evenings. He is not going to halt his hunger strike. He said he would go all the way and believes in his victory.

Sentsov’s birthday also happens to fall on the last week of the World Cup, during which PEN centres around the world have been taking part in the #KeepingScore campaign. Here at PEN International, we are gathering messages of solidarity and our colleagues at PEN America and PEN Kenya are hosting events to highlight his case.

Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich sent this message:

Today is Oleg Sentsov’s birthday, who challenged the Kremlin authorities. I want to tell him today that he saves the dignity of each of us. He proves how much one person can do. After his deed, none of us has the right to indulge in despair, to allow ourselves to throw up our hands, to give up. Everyone has to do something for the future; otherwise, we will go backwards.

Oleg, stay alive! We need you.

To mark his birthday, PEN is asking members and high-profile supporters to tweet messages to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. As we near the end of this unique opportunity to put pressure on the Russian authorities to release Sentsov, and with his health failing, it is crucial that we work together on this final push.


Read and share his work

Three of Oleg Sentsov’s short stories are available in English (translated by Dr Uilleam Blacker) and Arabic (translated by Amani Lazar)

Send messages of support

Please send messages of solidarity to Oleg Sentsov and his family via We will then arrange for these to be translated into Russian.

Add your voice

Join the call to free Oleg Sentsov on social media: #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

.@PutinRF_Eng, Oleg Sentsov should not be behind bars on his birthday. He should be with his family. Release him immediately #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore
Today marks Oleg Sentsov’s 42nd birthday and day 61 of his hunger strike in a Siberian prison @PutinRF_Eng release him now. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore
.@PutinRF_Eng, the world is watching. Oleg Sentsov grows weaker by the day on hunger strike. Today is his birthday. He must be freed. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore @FIFAWorldCup


• .@ПутинRF_Ru, Олег Сенцов не должен оставаться за решеткой в свой день рождения. Он должен быть со своей семьей. Немедленно отпустите его #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

• Сегодня отмечает 42-й день рождения Олег Сенцов и сегодня 61-й день его голодовки в сибирской тюрьме. @ПутинRF_Ru освободи его немедленно. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

•.@ПутинRF_Ru, мир наблюдает. Олег Сенцов слабеет от голодовки. Сегодня его день рождения. Он должен быть освобожден. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore @FIFAWorldCup


•.@PutinRF_Ukr, Олег Сенцов не повинен залишатися за гратами у свій день народження. Він повинен бути з родиною. Відпустіть його негайно #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

• Сьогодні виповнюється 42 роки з дня народження Олега Сенцова та 61 днів його голодування в сибірській в'язниці. @PutinRF_Ukr випусти його негайно. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

•.@ PutinRF_Ukr, світ спостерігає. Олег Сенцов з кожним днем слабшає від голодування. Сьогодні його день народження. Він повинен бути звільнений. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore @FIFAWorldCup


•.@PutinRF_Pl, Oleg Sentsov nie powinien być za kratami w dniu swoich urodzin. Powinien być z rodziną. Wypuść go natychmiast #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

• Dziś mijają 42 urodziny Olega Sentsova i 61 dzień jego strajku głodowego w syberyjskim więzieniu. @ PutinRF_Pl wypuść go natychmiast. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore

•.@ PutinRF_Pl, świat obserwuje. Oleg Sentsov z dnia na dzień słabnie z głodu. Dzisiaj są jego urodziny. Musi zostać uwolniony. #FreeSentsov #KeepingScore @FIFAWorldCup