PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday about his concern for a Ukrainian filmmaker who is on a hunger strike in a Siberian prison.
Macron urged the Russian leader to find a humanitarian solution since Oleg Sentsov’s health “seems to be dangerously deteriorating,” according to a statement from the president’s Elysee Palace office.
Macron made several proposals, and Putin pledged to respond to them and to release information about the condition of Sentsov, who was on his 89th day without food Friday. Details of the proposals were not provided.
The filmmaker, an opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, was given a 20-yaer prison sentence in 2015 for conspiracy to commit terrorism, a crime he denies.
He says he and 64 other Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia are political prisoners and is demanding their release.
Sentsov’s lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, said after visiting him Tuesday at a prison on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia that Sentsov has anemia and a slow heartbeat.
In their telephone call, Putin and Macron also discussed the necessary conditions to ensure the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
The Kremlin said they shared a high assessment of their nations’ joint humanitarian operation in Syria last month, the first between Russia and a western country. The Russian-French operation distributed aid to residents of the former rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
A Kremlin statement said Putin emphasized the importance of the international community helping to restore Syria’s infrastructure and to promote the return of Syrian refugees who fled the country since its civil war started in 2011.
The Kremlin noted that the two leaders discussed other issues, but did mention Sentsov.