Ukraine has given Turkey a list of Ukrainians being held illegally in Russia, Ukrainian MP and Presidential Commissioner for the Crimean Tatar People Mustafa Dzhemilev told UNIAN news agency. Turkish President Recep Erdogan intends to discuss the possibility of releasing the Kremlin’s prisoners with his colleague Vladimir Putin.
“The Mejlis administrator made contact. He asked the Turkish ambassador to pass on this list. He passed it on, I think it was a week ago,” Dzhemilev told reporters.
In a meeting with Erdogan on July 12, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked him to facilitate the release of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. According to Dzhemilev, that same day he told the Turkish leader about the situation with the Kremlin’s prisoners, and Erdogan promised to take steps.
“He said: of course, we will take certain steps, but you have only mentioned a few names. I named Sentsov, Kolchenko…” Dzhemilev said. In August, the Turkish Foreign Ministry asked Ukraine for a complete list of the Kremlin’s prisoners.
In October last year, Crimean Tatar leaders Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz were released as a result of negotiations between the Russian and Turkish presidents. The Crimean occupation authorities sent them to Turkey, from where they returned to Kyiv.
Earlier, UN experts urged Russia’s leaders to immediately and unconditionally release the illegally held Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov. On Friday, August 18, the US embassy to Ukraine reiterated the call for the political prisoner’s release.
Sentsov began a hunger strike on May 14, demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and occupied Crimea. According to Sentsov’s attorney, his condition is deteriorating and has been critical on three occasions.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the US Department of State both demand that Russia release Sentsov and other political prisoners.
On June 14, European Parliament adopted a resolution on the extensive violations of human rights and persecution of Ukrainian citizens in Russia and annexed Crimea, and also demanded that the Russian government “immediately and unconditionally” release Oleg Sentsov and the other Ukrainian citizens who are being held illegally.
Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko were arrested by FSB staff in Spring 2014 in occupied Crimea. They were transferred to Russia, where Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years of high-security prison on spurious charges of organizing an act of terror. Kolchenko was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Sentsov and Kolchenko both pleaded not guilty.