Kyiv, July 28, 2015. Nadiya Savchenko’s lawyers have received what they consider to be additional proof in support of her alibi. Savchenko is a Ukrainian fighter pilot who was captured in eastern Ukraine by Russia-backed militants last year, and is being held in Russia facing charges for the murder of two Russian journalists. Both the examination of two cell phone providers and video footage appear to confirm her story, stated Ilya Novikov, Savchenko’s lawyer stated during a press briefing at Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. “Since December 2014, our main piece of evidence was a telephone bill, which demonstrates a call from Nadiya’s phone number at 10:44 a.m. in Luhansk, and a second at 11:04 a.m. in the Zarya training center area where she was held for six days by militants. Meanwhile, the shooting, for which Nadiya faces charges, occurred at around 11:40 p.m.,” explained Novikov. He believes that this evidence pokes holes in the case against Savchenko for her alleged involvement in the death of Russian journalists.
According to Novikov, Russia does not question the phone billing data. However, in late June, Russian investigators claimed that Savchenko’s phone bill is sufficient proof of an alibi, as the nearest telephone antenna to Savchenko’s alleged location had been damaged. Such damage, according to Russian investigators, could have caused Savchenko’s phone to connect to the antenna five km away in Luhansk near the village where the shooting occurred. Ukrainian specialists from the two leading cellular communication companies this week disproved the data provided by Russian investigators, stated Novikov.
“Our position – based on reliable evidence like telephone history that any investigator anywhere in the world can check – has long-term goals. If the Russian court falsely convicts Nadiya Savchenko, we will rely on the opinion of expert groups both outside the court and Russia to clearly explain why the sentence is illegitimate and baseless,” said Novikov. He added that his team of lawyers would publish the defense’s documents after the court has reached its decision.
Novikov continued by stating that additional proof of Savchenko’s alibi is the video made by a militant of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, Yegor Russkyi, who testified that Nadiya Savchenko was captured after 1.00 p.m. However, the timer on the video camera was broken and consequently neither confirms nor denies anything. Nevertheless, the time of the video’s recording can be found, said Novikov. “Ukrainian investigators have determined that one of the shots clearly shows the sun and the shadows falling on the road at such angle, that it is possible to set the exact time when the picture was taken.” Novikov also stressed that this data suggests that Savchenko was captured at around 11.30 a.m.
Novikov believes that there is almost no hope that the court will take this evidence into account. He also suggested that Nadiya would be sentenced to 25 years in prison. “We should proceed from the fact that the sentence is already written and approved. And it will be the toughest sentence possible. The only way to release Nadiya from prison is to show the facts to those who make the decisions: to European politicians like Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, who are the guarantors of the Minsk agreements, and to the U.S. We need to show them the baselessness and bias of this sentence. We need to ensure that politicians leading the dialogue with the Russian leadership make the issue of Nadiya Savchenko’s release a priority in any negotiation relating to Russia,” stressed Novikov.
The committee in support of Nadiya Savchenko, created with the European parliamentarians’ involvement, is interested in the development of the lawsuit, Savchenko’s sister Vera told the audience at a press briefing. According to Vera, Lithuania and France are the most active countries supporting Savchenko.