Kyiv, April 28, 2016. “Nadiya Savchenko did receive extradition documents yesterday. She started filling them and will finish doing this together with my colleague Nikolai Polozov directly in the remand prison,” said Mark Feigin, lawyer of Nadiya Savchenko, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to procedural formalities, it is prosecutor in person who is to fill the package of documents, not the convicted or the lawyer. Nevertheless, the governor of the prison Kalganov gave these documents directly to Nadiya Savchenko. “Nadiya fears that these are preliminary actions before convoying her to penal colony. Such scenario cannot be excluded,” said the lawyer.
Defense team’s work on Savchenko’s case is de facto finished. “We moved to the next phase dealing with prospects of Savchenko’s extradition to Ukraine. The issue of procedural implementation remains open and will be processed for some time, but principal political decision on Savchenko’s extradition has been made,” added Feigin. The lawyer said that extradition is one of two possible ways to return Nadiya to Ukraine. It is impossible to exchange her for the captured Russian troops Aleksandrov and Yerofeev, as all of them should have the status of prisoners of war. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation does not recognize itself as a party to the conflict, so Geneva Convention does not apply in this case. The exchange procedure is impossible from the legal point of view and different mechanisms must be used.
Petition for clemency can be an alternative to extradition, but this way may have weaker prospects of success. Putin may disagree to pardon “the Ukrainian spy and murderess”. “So far, I can see more inclination to use [Strasbourg] convention on the transfer of sentenced persons in actions of the Russian Ministry of Justice, rather than the mechanism of granting pardon,” said the lawyer.
“I would like to emphasize that it is the court [Russian court at the convicted person’s location] to make a decision on extradition of the party convicted to serve the sentence in the country of origin,” emphasized Feigin. It is still unknown what court must take a decision on extradition due to the fact that Savchenko was not been convoyed to penal colony yet. “The decision would have to be taken by the court at the locations of serving the penalty, but Nadiya still remains in SIZO-3 remand prison in Novocherkask, and by territorial principle it would be Novocherkask town court,” explained the lawyer. Nevertheless, Novocherkask town court cannot consider this case until administrative commission of the remand prison takes a decision that Savchenko should serve her penalty in the remand prison. “This is a legal aspect, but I can assure you that political arrangements play a crucial part here,” emphasized Feigin. Paper-laden procedures will take at least one month. At same time, it is possible that Russians delay on purpose, waiting till Ukrainian party makes a similar decision on imprisoned GRU officers. Their sentence will become effective on May 25.
Feigin emphasized that if Savchenko returns to Ukraine, under no circumstances will she serve her penalty, not only due to the fact that everyone knows about her innocence, but because of her diplomatic immunity of a PACE deputy. “PACE passed resolutions twice [in January and April] demanding instant liberation of Savchenko. The lawyer emphasized that due to adherence to all the procedural formalities and collection of evidence, Nadiya’s innocence was legally confirmed, even of the Russian court have not recognized it. “It influenced the course of the process, for de facto Nadiya Savchenko’s innocence became evident due to these documents – objective evidence collected in the case. It induced the entire world community raise a question of Savchenko’s liberation and return to Ukraine,” said Aleksandr Plakhotniuk, Nadiya Savchenko’s lawyer.
Speaking of Vira Savchenko, Feigin informed that she, accompanied by Ukrainian consul, was stopped at Chertkovo checkpoint. She was denied exit and her passport was taken away from her under the pretence of being on the federal wanted list. This pertained to accusation by article 297 – “disrespect of the court” – for a bold phrase said to a judge during the process against “prisoners of Kremlin” Karpiuk and Klykh where Vira acted as a social defender. Vira is at Ukrainian consulate at present and a lawyer went there. Feigin believes that the reason for Vira Savchenko’s detention can be either purely bureaucratic – a request from Groznyi to interrogate her as an accused, or political – pressure exerted in connection with the process of Nadiya Savchenko’s extradition. “It is very strange that it came to light only now, after six months. She was even interrogated in Donetsk court [on the case of Nadiya Savchenko],” said the lawyer. It is important to understand now, what they want, for the article 297 envisages various options, from a fine to four months in prison,” explained Feigin.