Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Should Nadia Savchenko Starve to Death to Win her Case in Russian Court?

Ukrainian pilot and parliament deputy Nadia Savchenko has told a Russian court she will continue her dry hunger strike after a tense hearing in which the judge postponed the verdict in her closely watched case until March 21. A defiant Savchenko declared that she would recognize neither the court nor its verdict, before she stood on a bench inside the cage for defendants and raised her middle finger in the direction of the judge.

Savchenko emphasized that she is willing to continue the no-food, no-water hunger strike no matter what happens, saying, "You must understand that we are playing with my life; the stakes are high and I have nothing to lose."

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Savchenko, 34, wore her trademark T-shirt with the Ukrainian trident symbol at the March 9 hearing in the court in the southern Russian city of Donetsk, near the border with the home country she has vowed to return to "dead or alive."

She is accused of acting as a spotter who called in coordinates for a mortar attack in eastern Ukraine in July 2014 that caused the deaths of two Russian journalists covering the conflict between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists.

These facts are proven totally wrong (Savchenko was captured by pro-Russian terrorists about two hours BEFORE the stated time, and no way she could not be performing the action she is accused for). While the Russian court claims that she voluntary crossed the border to Russia and was arrested there, this theory also does not hold any reasonable grounds. Savchenko was captured in Ukraine and taken to Russia illegally by force, tied up. The defense team provided documented evidence to show that Nadia was already in captivity at the time of the artillery strike she is accused of directing.

However, Russian prosecutors are not much bothered by flaky statements, not supported by any evidence. They have asked the court to sentence her to 23 years in prison and impose a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400). Nadia Savchenko is formally charged with murder, attempted murder, and illegally crossing Russia's border.

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In the brief hearing on March 9, Savchenko's lawyer read out her closing statement, which she had been prevented from reading at a hearing on March 3. He then asked the court to deliver its verdict immediately. The judge responded by saying the verdict would come only on March 21 and 22. At trials in Russia, it sometimes takes the judge more than a day to read out the lengthy verdict in the courtroom.

Savchenko has been on a dry hunger strike -- refusing all food and water -- since March 4.

After the hearing, Savchenko lawyer Nikolai Polozov said on Twitter that the court had denied permission for Savchenko's family and Ukrainian doctors or Ukrainian consular officials to visit her before the sentencing hearing.

Polozov told Reuters that Savchenko's "life is in danger" and added, "As lawyers, our main task now is to enable Ukrainian doctors to get to her."

In her handwritten final statement, which was posted on Facebook after the previous hearing, Savchenko expressed hope for an agreement that would return her to Ukraine after the verdict but warned she would continue her hunger strike and vowed to return "dead or alive."

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Here is an English translation of this remarkable document of courage and strength.

I accept neither guilt, nor the verdict, nor the Russian court. In the case of a guilty verdict there will be no appeal. I want the whole democratic civilized world to realize that Russia is a third-world country, with a totalitarian regime and a petty tyrant-dictator, where human rights and international law are spat upon.

It is an absurd situation when those who abduct people subject them to torture then act as if they have a right to judge them! How can one talk about a fair trial? In Russia, there are no trials or investigations -- only a farce played out by Kremlin puppets. And I find it superfluous to waste time in my life participating in it!

And so there will be no appeal, but this is what will happen: After the verdict I will continue my hunger strike for 10 more days, until the verdict comes into force -- and this is regardless of the translation [of the verdict] into Ukrainian, because they can drag that out for a long time, too. In 10 days I will begin a dry hunger strike [refusing both food and water], and then Russia will have no more than 10 days to return me to Ukraine, where they abducted me! And I don’t care how they justify it! I have heard that [Ukrainian President] Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko is quite adept at diplomacy. I hope his diplomatic skills will suffice to reach agreement in Russia with a certain idiot -- after all, he promised my mother that I would be home in time for the May holidays of 2015.

And while they are bargaining over me, my life will be draining away and Russia will return me to Ukraine in any case -- it will return me, dead or alive!

Throughout these 10 days, day and night, my sister will be standing at the jail gates, and she will wait and see whether they release me or not. And if you put her in jail, my mother will come and take her place. She is 77, will you put her in jail, too? In that case my friend will take her place, and after her -- Ukrainian after Ukrainian! And remember -- you can’t shove everybody in here. And while my compatriots are standing there, simple, honest, and decent Russians living in nearby homes will bring them hot tea, sandwiches, and warm blankets, because each one of them understands that tomorrow their child could be in my place, in this prison of all peoples called Russia!

That is how Maidans (revolutions) start! Do you need that?! You fear it like the plague! So it is better for the Kremlin to return me to Ukraine as soon as possible, and alive!

And those in the world with democratic values ought to learn their history lessons before it's too late and remember that there was a time when Europe was tolerant toward Hitler, and America wasn’t decisive enough, and this led to World War II. Putin is a tyrant with imperial manners and a Napoleon and Hitler complex put together. The [Russian] bear doesn’t understand human language, he understands only the language of force. Therefore, unless we become more decisive and determine the right priorities on time, we will soon have World War III.

And I, as a politician now, won’t shake Russia's hand in the political arena. It is not right to extend a hand to someone who kept you in handcuffs and your people in chains. But every time I make a political decision, I will always think how it would affect ordinary people, both in Ukraine and Russia. Because in Russia, in spite of everything, there are many honest, kind, and decent people.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists in Moscow on March 8 that there had been no negotiations with Kyiv regarding a possible prisoner swap involving Savchenko.

"This cannot happen -- either in theory or in practice -- until the court's decision," Zakharova said.

Nadezhda is the Russian version of Savchenko's first name, which means "hope." Yes, there is hope, that she will survive, however, being for 2.5 weeks on dry hunger strike (refusing both liquids and solid food) means inevitable death. Based on some experts, this is what Putin is trying to achieve – or get big bonus from the West in a shape of the lifting sanctions, or kill her not by the court verdict.

At the weekend Savchenko’s mother, Maria, issued an emotional video appeal to world leaders to put pressure on Russia to free her daughter. “I’m so nervous, I forgot what it’s like to sleep,” she said. “I pray, help us. Save her from that jail. Put all your efforts towards it,” she said.

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On Monday, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, called on Russia to release Savchenko, saying her detention showed a “disregard for international standards, as well as for Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements”.

Members of the European Parliament have requested that Russian President Vladimir Putin and 28 other officials be put under sanctions over the detention of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

Massive protests and demonstrations over the Nadia Savchenko, Ukrainian hero, are arranged all over the World, especially in locations, where there is massive Ukrainian and Russian population. US Congressmen and Senators are receiving thousands letters from the US citizens, requesting strong political support of the Federal Government to apply pressure on the criminal regime of Putin in the modern Russia.

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