war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Nadiya Savchenko: “I won’t see the Spring, nor the Sun”

Halya Coynash
After 73 days on hunger strike, Nadiya Savchenko is reported to be experiencing kidney and gall bladder problems, Germany, while admitting that two German doctors examined Savchenko on Feb 15, is still saying nothing about what they found.

After 73 days on hunger strike, Nadiya Savchenko is experiencing kidney and gall bladder problems.  That, at least, is the report from a human rights activist who visited her on Monday.  In the absence of a medical examination, as she has requested, by an international team of doctors, Valery Borshchov’s assessment cannot be verified, but should clearly be taken seriously.  Germany, while admitting that two German doctors examined Savchenko on Feb 15, is still saying nothing about what they found. 

Borshchev, a member of the Public Supervisory Committee told Radio Svoboda that such a long period on hunger strike could not fail to leave its mark and mentioned specifically that Nadiya Savchenko complained of problems with her kidneys and gall bladder.  The doctors are monitoring her condition, however there is clearly a risk of complications.  She is, nonetheless, holding out, he says, adding that she spoke with them quite cheerfully.

Human rights activist Zoya Svetova who was also present, presents a slightly different picture, saying that Savchenko complained of feeling weak and sleeping a lot.  “The day’s somehow gloomy”.  Svetova tried to cheer her up by saying that it would soon be Spring.

Savchenko pointed to the window of her cell and answered: “I won’t see the Spring, nor the Sun”.  Svetova confirms that the window is to an internal courtyard without a single tree, which doesn’t seem to get the Sun at all.”

According to her sister Vera Savchenko, the Ukrainian MP and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] delegate who has been held in Russian detention after her capture in Ukraine by Kremlin-backed militants and abduction to Russia has lost over 26% of her weight.  It is no wonder that she is so tired and that she feels the cold very badly.  According to Svetova, it is now 13 days since Savchenko even accepted glucose-enriched water making the risk to her health, and her life, grave. 

She was apparently examined by Russian doctors on Feb 20. They yet again found her state of health to be ‘satisfactory’, although they called on her to end her hunger strike. 

This she has consistently refused to do, saying that she has been deprived of any other means of fighting the injustice perpetrated against her. 

There have been calls for Nadiya Savchenko’s release from the UN, the EU, PACE, the US State Department and other countries.  All have acknowledged that Savchenko’s release is part of the first Minsk Agreement and also appears to have been agreed at the second Minsk summit on Feb 12. 

On Monday, Feb 23, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Martin Schaefer told journalists that 2 German doctors had examined Savchenko on Feb 15, following an agreement reached by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the Minsk II talks.  This behind-the-scenes arrangement was for a ‘confidential’ visit with neither German nor Russian sides making it public.  It is claimed, however, that Savchenko was at the later meeting between the German and Russian doctors.  It is impossible to ask her, however her lawyers have reported that she asked for the doctors’ assessment and was not given it. 

Germany’s Foreign Ministry felt compelled to make a public statement for two reasons: as reported here, the Russian side used the visit to claim that the German doctors had agreed with the Penitentiary Service doctors that Savchenko’s state of health was satisfactory. And Ukrainian media (and the author of these words) had accused Germany of collaborating with Russia. 

While Ukrainian media and Voice of America reported on Monday that Germany had called for Savchenko’s release, the German newspaper Sü reports a more round-about form of diplomatic speech: suggesting she should be released, without being too forthright in demanding it.

That, however, remains as inexplicable as the ongoing failure by PACE or EU to publicly insist that an international team is allowed to examine Savchenko. 

Yes, Russia argues that Nadiya Savchenko is not a POW, and not an “illegally held person’, but is charged with a criminal offence. 

It has not explained how she came to be released by the militants, and in fact, avoids any mention of that capture altogether despite video footage showing her being interrogated by them on or before June 20. 

Moscow’s story about how she supposedly came to be in Russian custody lacks any credibility.  So too do the charges of complicity in the deaths of two Russian journalists killed when they were caught by mortar fire in the Luhansk region.  There is no reason to believe that anybody was trying to kill the journalists. More importantly, the defence has provided evidence demonstrating that Savchenko had already been captured when the two men were killed. 

Despite providing no evidence to link Savchenko with their deaths, and despite her alibi, she has been held in Russian detention since the beginning of July. 

It is worth noting that in this ‘criminal case’ against former pilot Nadiya Savchenko, the investigators claim that there 68, 387 witnesses and 17, 792 victims.


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