Nadiya Savchenko promised a ‘harsh sentence’
“Something tells” Vladimir Markin, official representative of Russia’s Investigative Committee, that the sentence passed on Ukrainian ex-pilot and MP will be ‘harsh’. This something (or somebody) obviously allowed him to flagrantly ignore fundamental principles of a fair trial and pre-empt the court in declaring Savchenko guilty. Markin stated that he expected a harsh sentence “because those crimes that Nadiya Savchenko committed are clearly regulated by Russian Federation legislation since the crime was committed against Russian citizens”.
Markin’s remarks are not the first time that Russian officials have demonstrated that the proceedings against Savchenko have nothing in common with a court of law. Russia’s Justice Ministry has twice stated that Savchenko’s ‘extradition’ can be discussed if Ukraine recognizes the verdict passed by a Russian court and guarantees that she would serve her sentence in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko responded by pointing out that a statement like this before a verdict has been handed down “demonstrates one thing alone, that the verdict has already been written, and that it will definitely be a conviction.”
Nadiya Savchenko is charged with complicity in the death of two Russian journalists who were killed in mortar fire on June 17, 2014. There is no evidence at all that Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin were deliberately targeted. They had not been provided by the State-controlled Pyervy Kanal with bulletproof vests, etc. and were in an area where fierce fighting was taking place between Kremlin-backed militants and Ukrainian soldiers.
The prosecution claims that Savchenko climbed up a television tower and, at a distance of around 2.5 kilometres noticed the journalists and informed members of the Aidar volunteer battalion of their location. Neither the binoculars nor the radio system that the prosecution alleges were used to do this have been produced.
Savchenko had already been captured by Kremlin-backed militants in the Luhansk oblast when the two journalists were killed. The defence is able to prove from mobile telephone records and witness reports that Savchenko was captured at around 10 a.m., around an hour and a half before the two journalists came under fire.
The prosecution responded by coming up with a ‘witness’ who claimed that there were technical problems on the day in question, and that the evidence from Savchenko’s phone is therefore unreliable. This person, Mikhail Pomazan is allegedly an employee of the Life mobile operator. The defence, however, have received a response from the company in question saying that they have never had an employee of that name. The lawyers therefore demanded that ‘Pomazan’ be summoned for cross examination. Despite the obvious validity of such an application, the judge rejected it, refused to add the letters the defence received to the file, and the written testimony was simply read out.
This was only one of numerous occasions over the past months where the judges in this case (Leonid Stepanenko, Ali Khaibulaev and Yevgeny Chernysh) have appeared to work in collusion with the prosecutor.
A particularly outrageous example of this was seen in the permission given to key witness and militant leader Igor Plotnytsky to give his testimony in secret, with the defence not allowed to reveal any details.
Markin’s pronouncements were undoubtedly out of order, but hardly surprising, since nobody genuinely believes in an acquittal in this travesty of a ‘trial’.
If Savchenko is found innocent of ‘illegally crossing the border’, then Russia must explain why, after being captured by Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine, she was taken across the border into the Voronezh oblast, held prisoner by armed guards in the Euro Hotel, and visited every day by Investigative Committee ‘investigator’ Dmitry Manyshin. Russia would have to find good reason for having effectively imprisoned for 18 months a Ukrainian MP and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE]. And this when she has an unbreakable alibi and where there is no evidence backing the Investigative Committee’s claims.
Nadiya Savchenko has warned that “she will resume her hunger strike after the verdict goes into effect but it will be a dry hunger strike - this time without water.”
The verdict is likely around Dec. 24. While the Kremlin may indeed be hoping to time it around Christmas to minimize attention, it cannot seriously be expecting a heavy sentence on a PACE delegate whose release has been demanded by all democratic countries and European structures to go unnoticed.
Please write to Nadiya Savchenko, if possible, in Russian. The address is:
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