Russian Official Says Jailed Ukrainian Director Sentsov Has Ended Hunger Strike
Russia's Penitentiary System (FSIN) says Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who was jailed in Russia on terrorism charges, has stopped his nearly five-month hunger strike, but the information has not been either confirmed or denied by Sentsov or his lawyers.â
FSIN Deputy Director Valery Maksimenko said on October 5 that Sentsov agreed to start eating and that "Moscow diet experts have prepared a special diet for him to help him gradually start full-fledged food consumption."
Sentsov "has officially, in writing, agreed to ingest food," independent news network Dozhd quoted Maksimenko as saying in an interview.
Ukraine's human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said on Facebook that Sentsov has stopped his hunger strike, which she said meant he was in "critical" condition.
However, neit her Sentsov's relatives nor his lawyers were immediately available for comment.
Maksimenko said the inmate's lawyers "helped him [make] the right decision" about the hunger strike.
"He'll be fine," Maksimenko added.
Sentsov, a Crimean native who opposed Russia's 2014 takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula, is serving a 20-year prison term after being convicted of terrorism in a trial that he, human rights groups, and Western governments contend was politically motivated.
Imprisoned in the Far Northern Yamalo-Nenets region of Russia, Sentsov started a hunger strike on May 14, demanding that Russia release 64 fellow Ukrainians he considers political prisoners.
Sentsov, 42, has refused to seek a pardon from Russian President Vladimir Putin, maintaining his innocence.
Human Rights Watch, citing a lawyer for Sentsov, said last month that he agreed to begin taking an oral nutritional supplement at some point in the past two months, after suffering his first health crisis.
Diplomats, as well as film celebrities such as director Jean-Luc Godard and actor Johnny Depp, have all called for Sentsov's release.
During last month's Venice film festival, Hollywood stars urged Moscow not to let him die, and leading figures in the Russian film industry have also called for his release.