Risks Rise As Sentsov's Hunger Strike Enters 75th Day, Lawyer Warns

The lawyer for Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov, who is serving a 20-year prison term in Russia and has been on a hunger strike for nearly two months, says the health risks for his client are rising as the protest enters its 75th day.

Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Sentsov is serving his term in Russia's northern region of Yamalo-Nenets after being convicted on terrorism charges that he and human rights groups say were politically motivated.

The 42-year-old denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May, demanding that Russia release 64 Ukrainian citizens he considers political prisoners.

Sentsov's lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, told the Associated Press on July 27 that Sentsov is pale and lies down constantly because he has difficulty moving.

Dinze said "the hunger strike is continuing and with each day the risk is increasing."

The European Court of Human Rights this week urged Sentsov to end his hunger strike.

Sentsov's mother earlier this month sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to pardon her son.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on July 13 that the letter from Sentsov's mother "will certainly be looked into," but did not comment on whether Putin might heed her request.

Several groups have called on Putin to pardon Sentsov, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the Ukrainian film director would have to ask for a pardon himself before it could be considered.

Sentsov has refused to request a presidential pardon because he considers himself innocent.

Based on reporting by AP, Ekho Moskvy, and Interfax