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Why has Nadiya Savchenko not been freed? Demand that Russia answers!

26.01.15 | Halya Coynash 

In response to the call from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for Nadiya Savchenko’s release, Sergei Naryshkin, Russian State Duma speaker has said that she will be released only if a Russian court finds her innocent of the charges against her.  Unfortunately, the behaviour of both the investigators and the court in this case give strong grounds for doubting that Nadiya Savchenko can hope for a fair trial in Russia.

Nadiya Savchenko is now a Ukrainian MP and member of the PACE Ukrainian delegation. Ms Brasseur is reported to have confirmed to journalists on Sunday that Savchenko at present has immunity.   PACE procedure requires that if a member of one of the PACE delegations is imprisoned, the authorities of the country in which he or she is detained, must ask for immunity to be withdrawn.

Russia is prosecuting a Ukrainian citizen imprisoned by pro-Russian militants in Ukraine .  it did not apply for her extradition, and the story it provides for how she came to be in Russia overstrains credulity.  If it genuinely has legitimate grounds for prosecuting the PACE delegate, it should lodge an application for her immunity to be waived.  It will, however, need to provide such convincing reasons which it has thus far failed to do.

Lies and concealment are time consuming and time is of the essence.  Nadiya Savchenko has been on hunger strike for 45 days and is dangerously weak. 

Russian answers now for Nadiya Savchenko’s life.   The abduction of a POW and detention in Russia surely fall under the definition of war crimes in the Rome Statute and other international documents. Russia must be made to understand that it will be held liable for “(i) wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;  and (vii) Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement”.

Help convince Russia to release Nadiya Savchenko before it is too late!

Please circulate / tweet the questions in bold here using hashtag #FreeSavchenko and providing a link to the information below.

How can Nadiya Savchenko, captured by militants in Ukraine, be in RUSSIAN detention?

Why does Russia not admit that Nadiya Savchenko was captured by militants in Ukraine?

Since Nadiya Savchenko was already in captivity when the two journalists were killed, why is she still in Russian detention?

Why should we believe that a Russian court will pass a fair verdict if investigators and the court ignore Savchenko’s irrefutable alibi? 

Why is Moscow breaching the Minsk Protocol by not releasing Nadiya Savchenko?

How can Russia seriously deny that Savchenko should be released as part of this agreement if she was captured by militants in Ukraine?

How long can Nadiya Savchenko survive on hunger strike in Russian detention?  It is now Day 45

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko was captured on June 17, 2014 by Kremlin-backed militants in eastern Ukraine [Luhansk oblast].  A video of her interrogation was published on June 20.  It is quite clear from that video that she has been taken prisoner.  

On July 2 a court in Russia remanded her in custody until August 30, and has since extended this several times.

Savchenko asserts that she was taken by force, with a bag over her head and in handcuffs, across the border into Russia. 

Russia’s Investigative Committee has claimed that she entered, pretending to be a refugee and was arrested – in camouflage gear! - after being stopped in a routine check.  This supposedly uncovered the ‘fact’ that she was wanted over the deaths of two journalists.

There had been no mention that she was wanted on any charges, nor any request for her extradition.

There is no mention of how a prisoner in Ukraine on June 20 came to be in Russian detention on July 3.

Russia’s Investigative Committee and the prosecution claim that, as a member of the Aidar Battalion, Savchenko passed on information about the whereabouts of two journalists from Russia’s Pyervy Kanal.  Igor Kornelyuk and his sound engineer  Anton Voloshin died on June 17 after being caught in shellfire while travelling close to militants of the self-proclaimed Luhansk people’s republic.  Despite immediate reactions from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and government-controlled media, there is nothing at all to indicate that the two men were in any way deliberately shot at.

The defence have also provided evidence, including phone records, which prove that Savchenko had already been captured in a different place before the journalists were killed.

The assertion made first by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then by Naryshkin that Savchenko can only be released if a court finds her innocent sounds reasonable, but ignores the reality of this case, including the clear disregard for the right to a fair trial.  The investigators were obliged to present the evidence they have against Savchenko, but have failed to do so. The defence, on the other hand, has provided an unbreakable alibi, yet the court has continued to detain a person who could not have committed the alleged crime.

The court has also consistently ignored details which clearly show that Savchenko was taken prisoner by militants in Ukraine and taken by force to Russia.  These indicate that her release is part of the agreement signed into force in the Minsk Protocol.

This has been reiterated by the US State Department*,    PACE and the European Parliament

Russia has suggested that it could leave the Council of Europe if it is stripped of voting rights in PACE for a second year. 

It cannot renege on fundamental rights and obligations under international law, including with respect to war crimes. 

The fact that it knows that its position is untenable is demonstrated by the government-controlled media’s scant mention of the case, and carefully edited reports when forced by events to say something.  It is probably significant that the international heavily financed government channel Russia Today has said nothing about Savchenko since October last year.

Please help ask the above questions on twitter (hashtag:#FreeSavchenko) and by contacting politicians and the international media.  

 

*  go.usa.gov

see also:
Nadiya Savchenko: “I won’t see the Spring, nor the Sun”
Why is Germany collaborating on detention of Nadiya Savchenko?
The Non-Compliance Europe prefers not to see - for those who won’t live to Minsk III
Why will you not release Nadiya Savchenko, Mr Putin?
Nadiya Savchenko’s Voice Defiant from Court of ’Clowns’
“A few more days and she’ll die”: Russians join calls for Savchenko’s release
Russia needs more than just stern words on Nadiya Savchenko
Russia reacts to PACE debacle with new charges against Nadiya Savchenko
Russian activists jailed for demanding Nadiya Savchenko’s release
PACE: Nadiya Savchenko’s health is critical, release her now!
Where is Nadiya Savchenko? Who is lying?
PACE President demands Savchenko’s release. Where next?
European Parliament demands release of Nadiya Savchenko: PACE’s voice awaited
Savchenko protesters detained while listening to Ukrainian anthem
We urge PACE to speak out on behalf of Nadiya Savchenko
Nadiya Savchenko will not end her hunger strike nor let them break her spirit
Write to PACE: Nadiya Savchenko has been on hunger strike for 30 DAYS
Russia silent as Nadiya Savchenko enters fourth week on hunger strike
Nadiya Savchenko: 19 days on hunger-strike and refused access to lawyers