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.

Words unspoken on first anniversary of Nadiya Savchenko’s captivity

Halya Coynash
It was exactly a year ago, on June 17, 2014, that the Ukrainian pilot was taken prisoner by Kremlin-backed militants who Russia has constantly claimed are Ukrainian separatists fighting a ‘civil war’ in Ukraine. Those militants promptly took her by force to Russia where Russian ’investigators’ took over

It was exactly a year ago, on June 17, 2014,  that Nadiya Savchenko was taken prisoner by Kremlin-backed militants in the Luhansk oblast, and through the day there were calls from western governments and European bodies for her release.  All stressed the key point – that the release of Savchenko and all prisoners is, as the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz put it, a “crucial element of the Minsk agreement”.

This was probably all that was needed, but not all that could be said on this shameful anniversary.  Schulz said on Twitter that Savchenko had been jailed a year ago, while an EU spokesperson noted more accurately that a year ago she “was captured in eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatists” and that she has spent “365 days of detention, most of them in Russia”. 

Nadiya Savchenko was captured by militants whom Russia has constantly claimed are Ukrainian separatists fighting a ‘civil war’ in Ukraine.  Yet those militants took her, during the night from June 23-24, and certainly by force to Russia where she was promptly subjected to interrogation by Russian officials.

The Russian investigators’ version is, of course, different, though has changed from the absurd to the grotesquely absurd over recent months.  Savchenko was first supposed to have escaped from the militants and, for reasons that defy comprehension, crossed into Russia.  The investigators then changed this, and now claim that the militants from the so-called ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ released her.   She is still alleged to have sped in the direction of Russia, and truly sped, since they claim she covered some 70 kilometres in an hour and a half.

The investigators’ version is that she crossed the border illegally ‘pretending’ to be a refugee, and that she was stopped initially in a routine check of papers. 

She was formally detained at the earliest on June 30, 2014.  We must thus either believe that a woman dressed in camouflage gear was not stopped “to check her papers” for some 6 days or, in keeping with Savchenko’s account, that she was held captive in Russia for six days between her capture by Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine and her formal detention on criminal charges in Russia. 

Not ‘jailed’, not even ‘detention’, just a prisoner.

This is despite the fact that her defence has provided proof that Savchenko was nowhere near the place where Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin were killed in mortar fire.

The prosecution has failed to find the binoculars with which Savchenko is supposed to have seen the journalists 3 and a half kilometres away and the equipment with which she is alleged to have informed Ukrainian soldiers of their whereabouts.  And she has an alibi. 

June 17 is also the first anniversary of the death of the two journalists.  A year ago all pro-Kremlin media spoke of nothing else and followed the Russian foreign ministry’s lead in claiming that both the Ukrainian government and army were targeting Russian journalists for supposedly telling the truth about what the army was up to in Donbas. 

There was no mention of Nadiya Savchenko that day or during subsequent weeks. 

There was almost no mention of the two journalists in the same pro-Kremlin media on this first anniversary and not one of the few reports said a word about Nadiya Savchenko.  

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