EU appeals at G7 for support for jailed Ukraine film maker

FILE PHOTO - Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov looks on from a defendants' cage as he attends a court hearing in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

MALBAIE, Quebec (Reuters) - The chairman of European Union leaders Donald Tusk appealed at a G7 summit on Friday for support for Ukrainian film maker Oleg Sentsov, sentenced by Russia to 20 years in a prison camp in Siberia for opposing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The Crimea-born Sentsov pleaded not guilty and denounced the trial as politically driven, amid high tension between Russia and the West over Moscow’s role in the crisis in Ukraine.

“Today is the 24th day of his indefinite hunger strike, which he is planning to follow through if his demands of the release of 64 political prisoners are not met,” Tusk told a news conference.

“This is why I asked the leaders to show their support for Oleg Sentsov. Our solidarity can save his life,” he said before the talks of the G7 leaders of the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, Germany, France and Italy.

Russia was suspended from what was then called the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Grant McCool