16.01.2015 | Halya Coynash

European Parliament demands release of Nadiya Savchenko: PACE’s voice awaited



PACE President demands Savchenko’s release. Where next?

Russian attempts to muffle information about former military pilot Nadiya Savchenko’s capture by Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine have not convinced members of the European Parliament who voted on Thursday to call for “an exchange of all prisoners, including Nadiya Savchenko”.  A similar public call is eagerly awaited from the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE], Anne Brasseur, who is currently visiting Ukraine. 

An appeal asking PACE to publicly demand Savchenko’s release and to raise the subject of her prosecution in Russia after being taken prisoner by militants in eastern Ukraine has already raised around 3 thousand signatures in the last 2 days.  Although a copy was sent on Thursday to Ms Brasseur, signatures are still needed, as well as any measures aimed at achieving maximum publicity for Nadiya Savchenko’s situation.  She has now been on hunger strike for 34 days and there are serious grounds for concern regarding her health.

The US State Department has twice demanded her immediate release and the renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre has declared her a prisoner of conscience. 

The European Parliament’s resolution is refreshingly hard-hitting, calling for the continuation of the current EU sanctions regime … as long as Russia does not fully respect and, above all, deliver on its Minsk obligations.  It “urges the Commission to find ways to enhance solidarity among Member States should the crisis with Russia continue; stresses the need to adopt a clear set of benchmarks which, when achieved, could prevent imposing new restrictive measures against Russia or lead to lifting of the previous ones, including: implementation of the ceasefire, unconditional withdrawal from Ukraine of all Russian troops and Russian-backed illegal armed groups and mercenaries, exchange of all prisoners including Nadia Savchenko, and restoration of Ukraine’s control over its whole territory, including Crimea; in the case of any further Russian actions destabilising Ukraine, invites the European Council to take up further restrictive measures and broaden their scope, by covering the nuclear sector and by limiting the ability of Russian entities to conduct international financial transactions; recognises that the EU must be ready to support bordering Member States, which should be given the same level of security as all Member States.

PACE has thus far been silent about the ongoing detention of a newly-elected Ukrainian MP who is now also a PACE delegate.  Ms Savchenko is being held in solitary confinement and has only just received one or two letters after 2 months being deprived of any correspondence. 

In a moving letter from prison (translated here) Nadiya Savchenko vows to continue her hunger strike until she is freed and able to return to Ukraine.  She has no other means of fighting the monstrous lies and injustice perpetrated against her and will not give in.

Moscow has gone to immense lengths to conceal the most shocking aspects of this case, in particular the manner in which a person captured by militants in one country should have been detained in custody in another, with court after court refusing to investigate the clear evidence of her innocence and her credible account of how she was abducted and taken with a bag over her head to Russia.

Treatment of three peaceful protesters and a journalist planning to report their protest is typical of the excessive measures now taken to muffle this shameful case. As reported, on Jan 15 the four were sitting in a car loudly playing Ukraine’s national anthem outside SIZO-6 where Savchenko is being held when a police bus turned up and hauled them off to the police station where they were separated into different rooms and searched.  Oleg Mokryakov; Ivan Dudko and journalist Alexandra Ageeva were released after a few hours.  Ageevka’s video was returned to her, but with all footage on it wiped.

Kateryna Maldon was only released on Thursday, and is due in court on Jan 19 to face charges and a possible fine or 15-day jail sentence for what the police have deemed ‘petty hooliganism’.

She and the other three were expressing support for Nadiya Savchenko; concern for her health; indignation at her abduction from Ukraine by Kremlin-funded and supported militants; her detention for over 6 months in Russia; a forced psychiatric ‘assessment’ in the Serbsky Institute notorious in Soviet times for punitive psychiatry and the total disregard by the investigators and court for irrefutable evidence of her innocence.

The militants continue to be lavishly supplied and supported by Moscow;

Maldon is facing up to 15 days in jail;

And Nadiya Savchenko remains in Russian detention with her health, and ultimately her life, in danger.

Please endorse and circulate our appeal.

If possible, approach media in your country and ask them to publicize Nadiya Savchenko’s plight and / or your elected representatives to raise the issue at government level/

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