war crimes in Ukraine

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Savchenko to be hospitalized after tests “raise serious concerns for her health”

Halya Coynash
A few hours after the Russian Penitentiary Service announced that Nadiya Savchenko had been refusing food for three days, Savchenko’s lawyer confirmed that she is to be moved to a civilian hospital on Tuesday

A few hours after the Russian Penitentiary Service announced that Nadiya Savchenko had been refusing food for three days, Savchenko’s lawyer confirmed that she is to be moved to a civilian hospital on Tuesday.

The head of the Russian Human Rights Council reported after visiting Nadiya Savchenko on Monday that she has lost 8 kilograms in the last week.  Mikhail Fedotov added that her tests raise serious concern for her health. His colleague Yelizaveta Glinka confirmed that Savchenko “isn’t eating, drinks little and has very bad test readings”.  She says that the doctors have recommended hospitalization and defence lawyer Mark Feygin tweeted on Monday that Nadiya Savchenko is to be transferred to a city hospital.  He also made public a letter in which Savchenko says that she is to be hospitalized.  She also asks people not to write letters asking her to start eating again.  “Hunger is my only weapon against the lawlessness of the Russian authorities, so don’t ask me to lay down my weapon! *

The letter begins with the words that you can’t put Russian feed into a Ukrainian horse.  “I tried to eat, but it won’t go down”. 

The members of the Human Rights Council report large weight loss over the last week, however the Russian Penitentiary Service announced on Monday that Nadiya Savchenko has been refusing to eat anything for three days. 

The fact that the tests are so bad is of major concern, but hardly surprising.  Savchenko was on hunger strike from Dec 13, 2014 for around 80 days.  She began eating a small amount again and continued for 10 days before renewing her hunger strike on March 16.   She later agreed to eat the minimum to keep her alive, and her body is clearly seriously weakened. 

During the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] session last week speaker after speaker expressed concern about the ongoing imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko who is now both a Ukrainian MP and a PACE delegate.  Unfortunately Russia’s response to the PACE resolution in late January demanding Savchenko’s release in 24 hours was to present a new charge – of ‘illegally crossing the Russian border’.    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has even ignored the call for her release from the Human Rights Council he set up. 

As reported here, the indictment against Nadiya Savchenko was presented on Friday.  It is claimed that the former pilot who was captured by the Kremlin-backed militants in the Luhansk oblast last June and taken to Russia in handcuffs and a bag over her head entered Russia illegally.

It is also asserted that she climbed up a telephone tower and gave information about the whereabouts of Russian journalist Igor Kornelyuk and cameraman Anton Voloshin which resulted in their dying in mortar fire.  The Russian Investigative Committee has dazzled with many ‘criminal investigations’ over the last year.  These include charges of ‘genocide’ with the claim that the Ukrainian military are attempting genocide of Russian-speakers.

The charges against Nadiya Savchenko are therefore nothing new, although the cynicism of this specific case is staggering.  Everybody knows that Savchenko was imprisoned by the militants before suddenly appearing in a Russian court and being remanded in custody.  There is also ample evidence confirming that Savchenko was already captive when the alleged ‘crime’ is supposed to have taken place.  There is, finally, nothing at all to indicate that the two journalists were killed deliberately.

The fact that Savchenko is being placed in a civilian hospital is probably a good sign.  If this were to be a face-saving means of enabling her release, it would be even better.


*  A full translation of Nadiya Savchenko’s letter by Voices of Ukraine can be found here

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