PACE President demands Savchenko’s release. Where next?
During meetings on Friday with President Petro Poroshenko and other top government figures, Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) pointed out that one of the elements of the Minsk protocol was for the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons”.
“In this respect, ” she said, “I call for their immediate release, and amongst these persons I include the pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who is currently held by the Russian authorities. Ms Savchenko has now been appointed to the Ukrainian delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly and there are many grounds for her release, not least humanitarian, as her health continues to deteriorate as a result of her hunger strike.” Ms Brasseur said she would be taking up this issue with the Russian authorities.
Ms Brasseur had been handed a copy of the petition here https://change.org/p/president-pace-anne-brasseur-urge-russia-to-release-nadiya-savchenko which at that stage had gathered 3 thousand signatures.
We asked that she demand Nadiya Savchenko’s release, that PACE send a delegation to Russia and that her case be placed on the agenda for the first day of the next PACE session on Jan 26.
There have now been public calls for Nadiya Savchenko’s immediate release from the US State Department, the European Parliament and PACE.
Nadiya Savchenko remains in Russian detention and her condition after over a month on hunger strike is worsening by the day.
Russia’s FSB [Security Service] and police have responded to additional attention to Savchenko’s situation by organizing a permanent tail for her lawyers and detaining people and charging one of ‘petty hooliganism’ for sitting in a car outside Savchenko’s place of detention and loudly playing the Ukrainian national anthem.
The Russian pro-Kremlin media are largely silent about Nadiya Savchenko, or mention her hunger strike in connection with other more ‘positive’ details, such as that the Russian Ombudsperson Ella Pamfilova has promised to help facilitate a visit to the SIZO [remand prison] from her sister, Vera Savchenko.
Over the next days, and especially on Jan 26, when the PACE session which Savchenko as newly-elected Ukrainian MP and PACE delegate will be prevented from attending, it is vital that PACE members and the media are made aware of all those details that the Russian authorities are trying to conceal.
Russia has lied about the direct commitment made under the Minsk Protocol regarding prisoners. Asked about the possible release of Nadiya Savchenko and Crimean film director 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.
The Minsk Protocol, as the PACE President noted, speaks of the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons”
Savchenko was captured by Kremlin-backed militants in the Luhansk oblast of Ukraine and taken against her will to Russia where she has been held in detention ever since.
Moscow can intimidate and block the few remaining independent media in Russia but it cannot prevent the international community learning of this manifest breach both of the Minsk protocol and of international law.
PLEASE HELP ensure that the media and your own politicians learn about Nadiya Savchenko’s plight and especially those facts that the Kremlin is most trying to hide.
More details about the case and Nadiya Savchenko’s letter from Jan 12 can be found here
Information about the Jan 26 global action: Hope for Nadiya Savchenko: Global Action January 26 #FreeSavchenko
THIS IS NOT ALL
While attention is understandably focused on Nadiya Savchenko, other Ukrainians remain in detention in Russia on falsified charges.
Crimean opponents of Russian annexation Oleg Sentsov and civic activist Oleksandr Kolchenko were arrested in May last year and taken to Moscow where they have been held in detention ever since. There is a very real danger that they could receive 20-year sentences over a non-existent ‘Right Sector terrorist plot’.
More details (which urgently need publicity) here:
Yury Yatsenko, a young law student from Lviv, is also being held in Russia on totally fabricated charges. See:
Public concern over Russia’s imprisonment of former military pilot Nadiya Savchenko has had impact. Every one of us can help ensure that this case, and those of Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Yury Yatsenko are kept in the public eye until they are all released.