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Russia denies hunger-striking Ukrainian critically ill

August 21, 2018
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People hold posters to support Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is currently on hunger strike in a Russian jail to demand the release of the other Ukrainian hostages taken by the Kremlin, in front of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Today is the 100th day since the beginning of the indefinite hunger strike of Oleg Sentsov, announced on May 14, 2018, demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The family of an imprisoned Ukrainian filmmaker who has been on a hunger strike for 100 days said on Tuesday he is in critical condition, a claim that a Russian official quickly denied.

Oleg Sentsov, a native of the Russia-annexed Crimea Peninsula, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2015 for conspiracy to commit terrorism. His supporters call the prosecution of Sentsov, who staunchly opposed the annexation, politically motivated.

Sentsov’s sister, Natalya Kaplan, told The Associated Press that Sentsov is in intensive care in critical condition. She said, however, that the family doesn’t have full information about his health.

Russia’s prison system has been contradicting claims about the filmmaker’s worsening condition, saying that he’s been given nutritional supplements.

Kremlin ombudswoman promptly contradicted Kaplan’s statement, telling the RIA Novosti news agency that the prison sent in a group of doctors to examine Sentsov on Monday and they reportedly concluded that his condition was satisfactory.

Sentsov is demanding he and 64 other Ukrainians kept in Russian prisons who he considers political prisoners be released.

About 50 people rallied outside the Russian Embassy in the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday with the placards saying “Save Oleg Senstov!”

Ukrainian officials on Tuesday renewed their calls on Russia to release the filmmaker, with President Petro Poroshenko tweeting that “there isn’t a single meeting or international talks where I don’t call on world leaders and urge them to be proactive in pushing the Kremlin to release Oleg and all the prisoners of ours.”

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