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Ukraine hunger-striker's mother urges Putin to free son

AFP  |  Moscow 

The mother of Ukrainian filmmaker Sentsov, who has refused for two months in a Russian prison, has appealed to Vladimir to him as hopes fade for a speedy release.

Supporters today released a letter to from as her activist son turned 42 in a jail beyond the in far northern

"I ask you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, to show mercy and grant to Sentsov, do not destroy his life and that of his loved ones. We are waiting for him at home," she said in the letter dated June 22.

Putin's said the Kremlin had not received her appeal, however.

"We'll wait until we receive it," he told reporters. "It will certainly be considered," Peskov said, adding that he did not know if the formal appeal would lead to a

is serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted on terrorism charges over an alleged arson plot in Crimea. His supporters say the case was trumped up.

The was detained in Crimea in 2014 after annexed the peninsula from

Sentsov's mother said in her letter that her son had not killed anyone and wanted to dedicate his life to filmmaking.

"He has already served four years," she wrote.

"His children are waiting for him. His younger son is autistic. They are feeling bad without him. They will never be happy without their father."

Western governments and celebrities including Pedro Almodovar, and have repeatedly urged the Kremlin to release

Renowned Russian filmmaker even asked Pope to intervene.

Earlier this week prominent US-French wrote a letter to Sentsov, denouncing what he called "the atrocious injustice" suffered by the filmmaker and other Ukrainians.

"Your fight makes sense, well beyond the or even where so many naive tourists, having come for football and beer, do not even know about your existence while it's also for them that you are fighting," wrote the of "The Kindly Ones."

has shown little enthusiasm for letting the anti-Kremlin filmmaker go. There had been hopes he might be released as a gesture of goodwill by Sunday's final hosted by

The Kremlin has previously said must himself ask for a pardon for his release to be considered, but the has refused to do so.

However, lawyers say that a Russian can pardon an inmate even if he or she does not formally ask for clemency.

Ukrainian said on his government would keep up pressure on the Russian authorities in a bid to free Sentsov and dozens of other Ukrainians it views as political prisoners.

Sentsov launched his hunger strike on May 14 to demand Russia release Ukrainian political prisoners.

He timed his protest to coincide with to attract maximum attention to the plight of Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia.

Sentsov has lost around 15 kilogrammes, while he is being sustained with water and a glucose drip, his relatives say.

On average, humans can survive without for about two months. Russian activists who staged pickets in Sentsov's support have been harassed by the authorities.

Today, an activist was sentenced to five days in jail for demonstrating in Sentsov's support in the second city of Saint Petersburg, officials said.

Sentsov is best known for his film "Gamer", which screened to critical acclaim at in 2012.

Supporters say Russia wanted to make an example of him with a particularly harsh sentence for masterminding arson attacks, which he denies.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 13 2018. 19:50 IST