Day 764: Savchenko Verdict Finally Due Today

March 22, 2016
Nadiya Savchenko in court today. Photo: Olga Ivshina (@oivshina)


Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


As Poroshenko Offers Exchange, Savchenko Says She Will Resume Dry Hunger Strike In 10 Days

Lawyers for Nadiya Savchenko say that she will declare another dry hunger strike (refusing both food and water) on the tenth working day from now until she is returned to Ukraine.

AFP reports that Savchenko said in the courtroom today:

“Either I return to Ukraine or I die in prison. They can go to Siberia themselves, the bastards….

I have the right to do anything, even to die.” 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced this afternoon that he was prepared to release two captured Russian servicemen, Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, in exchange for Savchenko:

In the course of the meetings at the highest level in the Normandy format, I have repeatedly raised the issue of liberation of Nadiya and other Ukrainian hostages. And I have received support from other participants of the format. President Putin said that he would return Nadiya Savchenko to Ukraine after the so-called court decision.

Now it is the time to fulfill that promise.

In my turn, I am ready to convey two Russian servicemen detained in our territory for their participation in the armed aggression against Ukraine. Judicial inquiry of their cases is on the final stage. Immediately after its completion, I am ready to ensure their transportation to the Russian Federation through appropriate procedures.

Such an approach corresponds to item 6 of the Minsk agreements – exchange all for all. This should be done immediately.

Poroshenko reiterated his call for international sanctions against Russian officials involved in the prosecutions of Savchenko and other Ukrainian prisoners, including film director Oleg Sentsov and activist Aleksandr Kolchenko.

— Pierre Vaux
International Outrage Spreads After Ukrainian POW Sentenced To 22 Years In Russian Prison

Condemnation of the sentencing of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko to twenty-two years in Russian prison is pouring in today — from ambassadors, governments, and human rights organizations. 

This tweet from the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs was retweeted by Daniel Baer, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe:

And Human Rights Watch has already released a statement, presumably one that was prepared in advance since, in the eyes of many observers, the verdict for this trial was a foregone conclusion.

A Russian court’s conviction of Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot, followed an unfair trial, Human Rights Watch said today. Savchenko was found guilty of abetting the murder of the Russian television journalists Anton Voloshin and Igor Kornelyuk on June 17, 2014, during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison and a 30,000 ruble (U.S. $450) fine.

Savchenko was also convicted of the attempted murder of civilians and of illegally crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border. Her defense attorneys have told the media that although Savchenko maintains her innocence, she will not appeal the conviction. The court refused to admit crucial defense evidence and consistently rejected important defense motions, making it impossible for her legal team to effectively challenge the allegations against her as fair trial standards require, Human Rights Watch said.

“Simply put, Nadezhda Savchenko did not get a fair trial, and so her conviction is unsound and should not stand,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “There should be justice for the deaths of Kornelyuk and Voloshin, but justice won’t be served by an unfair trial that was highly politicized from the start.”

The Atlantic Council has also published a statement, which points out that the gross injustices of the trial process have been widely condemned:

The verdict was a foregone conclusion. The prosecution had asked for a twenty-three year sentence and there was little doubt that she would be given any leniency. But even for this she had to wait two days. The first day of the reading of the verdict began on March 21 and lasted nearly eight hours.


“Today, as the Court reads out its verdict, and given the serious questions regarding the fairness of her trial and the legality of the transfer to the territory of the Russian Federation, I once again call for Nadiya Savchenko’s immediate release,” said Pedro Agramunt, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on March 21.
Savchenko’s trial was a political show from the very beginning, tweeted German European Parliament member Rebecca Harms. “The trial is shockingly similar to the show trials of the Stalinist period,” she wrote in a statement.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite called the Savchenko trial “a farce and mockery.”

Unfortunately, so many are focused on the horrific terrorist attack in Brussels and US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba that many diplomats, foreign ministries, and the US State Department have not yet condemned the Savchenko verdict and sentencing.

As a result of this news cycle, there is a threat that this gross injustice may be drowned out by bigger and more urgent headlines.

James Miller

Ukrainian Military Pilot Nadiya Savchenko Sentenced To 22 Years In Russian Prison
Some breaking news — following the guilty verdict of Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian pilot has been given a twenty-two year sentence: 
James Miller
Nadiya Savchenko Found Guilty In Show Trial

Nadiya Savchenko has been found guilty of killing two Russian journalists by directing artillery fire and illegally crossing the border.

To understand why this case is a sham, read our latest summary:
The BBC’s Olga Ivshina, amongst others, has been reporting from the court in the Russian border town of Donetsk:
Judge: Savchenko’s alibi has been found to be unfounded.
The judge finds the defense team’s arguments invalid – one after another.
Savchenko is smiling, exchanging glances with her sister. Her lawyer Novikov is reading a magazine. So has gone the second day of the reading of the verdict.
Savchenko is beginning to get angry and is loudly commenting on some of the judge’s language. Her lawyers are asking her not to interrupt the reading of the verdict.

The judge takes a critical view of Nadiya Savchenko’s testimony, but trusts the testimonies of representatives from the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR).

Judge: Savchenko’s injuries did not prevent her from operating her right arm, she was able to fulfil the functions of a spotter.

The judge criticises testimony of defense witnesses, and also Melnychuk’s BBC interview.

JUDGE: Savchenko is guilty

Savchenko is drowning out the reading of the verdict by singing. 5 minute break.
Savchenko began singing when the judge found her guilty. The judge declared a recess.

Judge finds Savchenko guilty of killing the 2 journalists and illegally crossing the Russian border.

Bailiffs are ushering everyone out of the courtroom. Savchenko continues to sing.

We’re awaiting the reading of Savchenko’s sentence. The judge’s last words couldn’t be heard due to the singing.

— Pierre Vaux

Savchenko Verdict Finally Due Today

Judge Leonid Stepanenko is today due to finish reading his verdict on Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military officer captured by militants near Lugansk in June, 2014, and then abducted to Russia where she has been on trial for the alleged murder of two state television reporters.

The verdict itself is for all intents and purposes a forgone conclusion. In such a politicised case the court has no impartiality and the judge has repeatedly ruled against allowing the defence team to cross-examine witnesses or present evidence that would exonerate Savchenko.

Protest against Savchenko outside the court. Still more flags than people. Apparently not everyone who promised to come did.
Savchenko has been discussing something for a while with her lawyers.

Savchenko’s lawyer – Ilya Novikov, says that the judge is reading the last 15-20 pages of the verdict.

Judge: If someone in the courtroom finds this funny, I can eject them.

Savchenko: I find it funny!

Savchenko actively exchanging glances with someone in the courtroom. Most likely with her supporting group. She’s smiling and joking.

The judge has now ordered a recess until 14:30 Moscow time (11:30 GMT).

— Pierre Vaux