MOSCOW: Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who has refused food for more than 140 days in a Russian prison, has halted his high-profile protest, Russian media reported Friday, citing a deputy head of Russia's prison service.
"Yes, he has halted his hunger strike," Valery Maksimenko told Interfax news agency. "Moscow's best nutritionists have developed a special diet for him" to help him resume eating solids.
Maksimenko also told state TASS news agency that the 42-year-old had submitted a statement to prison authorities saying he was ready to start eating again.
The official said he was grateful to all local doctors and lawyers who convinced Sentsov that "he needs to live, that life goes on."
"Our doctors, our specialists managed to convince him. And he has chosen life," Maksimenko was quoted as saying.
Sentsov's lawyer Dmitry Dinze and spokespeople at the Russian prison service could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sentsov is serving a 20-year sentence in a prison in the far north after being convicted on terrorism charges over an alleged arson plot in Crimea. His supporters say the case was trumped up.
Sentsov had launched his hunger strike on May 14 to demand Russia release Ukrainian political prisoners.
He had been sustained with a glucose drip, some nutritional supplements and water.
The Kremlin has refused to pardon Sentsov, saying he must ask President Vladimir Putin for a pardon for his release to be considered, but the Ukrainian director has refused to do so.