Dozens of cultural figures from France and other countries have signed an open letter calling on leaders of Western countries to influence the Kremlin to release illegally convicted Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, who has been servicing his 20-year term in a Russian penal colony.

The letter was published in the French newspaper Le Monde on the eve of the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, RFE/RL's Ukrainian bureau wrote on November 10.

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The letter, which was signed by film directors Jean-Luc Godard, Aki Kaurismäki, Sergei Loznitsa, Andrei Zvyagintsev and others, as well as a number of famous actors, including Marina Vlady, historians, writers, and politicians, says it is necessary to use all possible diplomatic methods, to free Sentsov and other Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russian colonies and prisons.

If their actions fail, the authors of the letter propose that an analogue of the U.S. Magnitsky Act be adopted at the EU level to punish those involved in the conviction of Sentsov.

A rally demanding the release of the Ukrainian film director will be held in Paris on November 10.

As UNIAN reported earlier, Sentsov was arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea in spring 2014 and in August 2015, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison following an unfair trial where he faced "terrorism" charges stemming from his opposition to Russia's occupation of Crimea.

He has been serving his term in a penal colony in the town of Labytnangi, Russia's Yamal.

Sentsov began his hunger strike on May 14, 2018, demanding that Russia free all Ukrainian political prisoners.

Doctors supported his life with the help of a nutrient mix.

In early October, Sentsov announced he had to end his hunger strike due to the deterioration of his health and threats of forced feeding.