MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Ukrainian film director jailed in Russia on terrorism charges has ended a hunger strike that lasted over four months and agreed to eat again, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.
Oleg Sentsov, who says his conviction was politically-motivated, has been on hunger strike since May in protest over Russia’s human rights record and his case has been taken up by politicians and writers in the West who say he was unjustly jailed and should be freed.
A native of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula who opposed the region’s annexation by Russia in 2014, Sentsov has been jailed for planning terrorist attacks, which he denies.
“Oleg Sentsov has ended his hunger strike,” the TASS news agency cited Valery Maksimenko, the deputy head of Russia’s prison service, as saying. “He had agreed to start eating.”
Maksimenko was quoted as saying that diet experts were working with Sentsov, who has lost considerable weight, to ensure he started eating in a way that would allow him to make a return to full health.
A Russian military court sentenced Sentsov to 20 years in a maximum security prison in 2015 after finding him guilty of setting fire to two offices in Crimea, including one belonging to Russia’s ruling political party. Sentsov was also convicted of plotting to blow up a statue.
Sentsov, 42, pleaded not guilty at the time and denounced his trial as politically motivated. The European Union said the case was “in breach of international law” and the U.S. State Department called it a “clear miscarriage of justice”.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Peter Graff)