Person of the Week: Nadia Savchenko

posted 7 Mar 2016, 09:50 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Mar 2016, 09:51 ]
On 2 March 2016 at the trial of the Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, prosecutors demanded that she been sentenced to a 23-year prison term. As RFE/RL reports, Nadia Savchenko was captured in June 2014 when she was fighting in a volunteer battalion against Russian and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to Savchenko she was abducted and taken to Russia against her will. In Russia she was remanded in custody and charged. The government in Kyiv has argued that the charges against Savchenko are trumped up and that she should be treated as a prisoner of war.

On 3 March 2016 Savchenko was prevented from delivering her final statement in the trial when the court unexpectedly postponed the hearing until 9 March 2016. In protest, as Halya Coynash writing in Human Rights in Ukraine reports, Savchenko declared that she would begin a hunger strike without water from the next day (Friday 4 March 2016) “until my return to Ukraine, alive or dead”. Savchenko says that she will resist any use of physical force against her, which she will regard as torture. 

In announcing her hunger strike, Halya Coynash writes, Savchenko "was reacting to the sudden about-turn in court on Thursday and announcement that her final address to the court would be postponed until March 9. If the delay was aimed at preventing the foreign journalists present reporting her powerful indictment of Russia’s treatment of her, it almost certainly backfired. If Savchenko maintains her threat to go on a total hunger strike from Friday, then it is likely that by March 9, she will already be in a gravely weakened state. She has not been taking food since mid-December and she will surely lose strength rapidly."

A translation of the final statement in court which Nadia Savchenko had planned to give can be found at here.

Photo of Nadia Savchenko: Human Rights in Ukraine

Russian Prosecutor Calls For 23-Year Sentence Against Savchenko, RFE/RL, 2 March 2016
Halya Coynash, 'Nadiya Savchenko declares total hunger strike, prohibits any forced feeding or tests,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 3 March 2016