Kyiv, August 7, 2014. Nadiya Savchenko, a lieutenant in the Ukrainian army and a volunteer for the National Guard unit Aidar Battalion, is a kidnapping victim and a political prisoner in the Russian Federation. The Russian authorities, in cooperation with pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, organized Savchenko’s abduction and transportation to Russia, where she is now facing fabricated charges in the death of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine. Her legal team in Russia and the Ukrainian government has pledged to do everything possible to get Savchenko released and returned to Ukraine. This was all stated at a press conference at Ukraine Crisis Media Center dedicated to Savchenko’s imprisonment and pending charges in Russia. Speakers at the press conference included Mark Feigin, Savchenko’s head Russian defense lawyer, other members of her legal team, Ukrainian member of the parliament Oleh Osuhovskyi, and Savchenko’s representative in the European Court, Lyudmyla Kozlovska.
Savchenko’s imprisonment is very similar to many other politically-motivated criminal proceedings in the Russian Federation, such as the one against Pussy Riot in 2012, reiterated Feigin. “The case is political and there is no doubt,” he said. Feigin and other members of Savchenko’s defense team noted that the Russian prosecution used coercion and fabricated evidence against her. There is no evidence that links Savchenko to the mortars that killed the two journalists. Two “secret witnesses,” who are members of a pro-Russian militant group, are the only witnesses against her in the case.
Even while promising to defend Savchenko to their utmost ability, her defense team believes that diplomatic intervention is the most promising solution. The team is applying political pressure and appealing to international institutions. Despite her abduction and the charges against her, her defense team says that Savchenko is in good condition. “She is fine, to the extent that one can be fine after a month in prison,” said Ilya Novikov, another lawyer.
“We as Ukrainian MPs should do everything possible for Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia,” said Oleh Osuhovskyi, the member of Ukrainian parliament. He also said that he had contacted European members of parliament about her case, and continues to reach out to Ukraine’s supporters in the West and the international community. Lyudmyla Kozlovska added that Ukraine will continue to reach out to Europe and international institutions to exert pressure on Russia and spread awareness about the facts. She emphasized that “because of past international support we were able to liberate some people from Russia.”