NEW YORK—In response to a statement released today by Ukrainian writer, filmmaker, and 2017 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award winner Oleg Sentsov, saying that he will end his hunger strike on October 6, after 145 days, PEN America’s CEO Suzanne Nossel offered the following statement:

“Oleg Sentsov has shown us how powerful a lone voice can be in the face of tyranny.  He did not undertake his hunger strike impulsively, nor wage it for his own freedom, but rather to seek release of the dozens of other Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. He has succeeded in shining a light on their plight and the cruelties of Putin’s regime, mobilizing creative communities around the world. We are disturbed at reports that prison authorities were insisting upon force feeding Sentsov. The Russian government seems determined to treat his fate as a craven victory, touting their own role in fostering his health as international law requires them to do. The international community should reject the Russian government’s cynical spin and focus instead on Sentsov’s unjust imprisonment and the astonishing courage of his campaign while calling on Russian authorities to ensure he receives any treatment needed to regain his health. We stand with Sentsov in this ordeal, laud his extraordinary commitment and sacrifice, and renew our demand for his immediate and unconditional release.” 

The letter from Oleg Sentsov can be found here, and excerpts in English here

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org

CONTACT: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: agasparian@pen.org