Russia claims release of Savchenko and Sentsov not part of Minsk deal
Oleg Sentsov & Oleksandr Kolchenko Nadiya Savchenko
Russia does not consider a Ukrainian officer taken prisoner by Kremlin-backed militants and abducted to Russia to be part of the exchange of prisoners agreed at the Minsk negotiations. Asked about the possible release of Nadiya Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich claimed to see no link between their cases and the Minsk protocol which spoke of prisoners of war.
He also said that he had been asked about these cases by Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. “We told him openly that in connection with a whole range of actions serious charges had been laid against them which will be considered in accordance with the norms of our legislation “. He acknowledged that there was a “humanitarian aspect to this problem” and promised to check details and answer more definitely.
Let’s hope he does so soon since there is considerably more involved than a “humanitarian aspect”.
In his briefing on Sept 11 Lukashevich denied that Russia was a party to the conflict. Even if that were the case, Nadiya Savchenko’s release would fall within the scopeof the Minsk agreement as she was taken prisoner by militants from the so-called Luhansk people’s republic.
As reported, Savchenko was captured on June 17 or 18. Two days later a video appeared of her being interrogated by the militants. She demonstrated courage during the interrogation and refused to provide the information the militants demanded.
On July 2 a Russian court remanded her in custody until August 30. Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on July 9 that charges had been laid against Savchenko for alleged “complicity in the group killing of two or more people carrying out official activities in a publicly hazardous manner for motives of political hatred”.
They also assert that Savchenko crossed the Russian border, without any documents, pretending to be a refugee. They allege that she was initially detained to establish her identity.
This story is totally denied by Savchenko who says she was forcibly taken across the border with a bag over her head and in handcuffs. The Russian investigators’ version is also wildly implausible. More details about the holes in the case, and the use of Russian TV to try to conceal them here.
Nadiya Savchenko has been placed against her will and with no justification for ‘psychiatric examination’ in the notorious Serbski Institute.
Oleg Sentsov and three other opponents of Russian occupation of Crimea
Mention has only been made of renowned Crimean film director Oleg Sentsov, however Russia’s FSB arrested four men in the Crimea in May 2014. Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirny were actively opposed to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. They were arrested at different times in May and after interrogation allegedly with the use of torture were taken to Moscow where they are facing positively far-fetched ‘terrorist’ charges. Chirny has also been subjected to a Serbsky Institute ‘examination’ and the NGO Open Dialogue has expressed concern that he could be the victim of punitive psychiatry.
This final law student from Lviv has been in custody in the Kursk region of Russia since May and is now facing charges which bear no scrutiny. More details at: Russia’s Geopolitical Prisoners.
Text in French: La Russie refuse de libérer Savchenko et Sentsov