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Aide: Ukrainian, Russian Rights Officials Set To Meet Amid Sentsov Standoff


Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova

An aide to Ukraine's ombudswoman says the official is set to meet her Russian counterpart in Moscow next week amid a dispute over access to jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who is on hunger strike in prison in far northern Russia following a terrorism conviction he says was fabricated.

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova and Russian ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova have agreed to meet in the Russian capital on June 18, Olena Myachina, an aide to Denisova, told RFE/RL on June 15.

Denisova had previously declined to meet with Moskalkova after the Ukrainian official said she was prevented from meeting Sentsov after arriving at the penal colony where he is being held the Yamalo-Nenets region on June 15.

In a video statement on Facebook, Denisova said the warden and the regional prison service chief did not allow her to meet with Sentsov and gave no explanation for their decision.

Moskalkova, meanwhile, said that Denisova's attempt to meet with Sentsov violated "agreements reached previously."

Moskalkova told a television channel in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on June 15 that she had asked prison authorities to give doctors proposed by the Ukrainian side access to Sentsov alongside Russian doctors in order to conduct an "independent assessment" of the filmmaker's health.

Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov

Sentsov was arrested in Crimea in 2014, after Russia seized the Ukrainian region. A Russian court in 2015 convicted him of planning to commit terrorist acts and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He denies the accusations.

Sentsov has been on hunger strike since May 14, demanding that Russia release 64 Ukrainian citizens he considers political prisoners.

Western governments and rights organizations have called for Sentsov to be released, and the Russian human rights group Memorial considers him a political prisoner.

The European Parliament on June 14 overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Russian authorities to release Sentsov and all the other "illegally detained Ukrainian citizens" in Russia and Russian-controlled Crimea "immediately and unconditionally."

With reporting by TASS
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