MOSCOW — The mother of a jailed Ukrainian filmmaker who has been refusing food for nearly two months asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to pardon him.
Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia's annexation of Crimea, was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts. He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.
In a letter written on Sentsov's 42nd birthday, Lyudmila Sentsova pleaded with Putin to show mercy and pardon her son. The letter was published by the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station Friday.
"I will not trying to convince you of Oleg's innocence, although I myself believe it. I will simply say that he didn't kill anyone," Sentsova wrote. "He has already spent four years in jail. His children are waiting for him."
She exhorted Putin "not to ruin his life and the life of his loved ones."
Sentsov has lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) and is very frail, according to his lawyer. He is receiving vitamins and other nutrients through an intravenous line.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin would consider the request. But Peskov added that he wasn't sure whether pardoning Sentsov was even legally possible since under Russian law, the president can only pardon a convict if he or she personally asks. Sentsov has refused to do that.