Presidential Human Rights Council says sentencing of Nadezhda Savchenko will open way to prisoner swap

posted 27 Mar 2016, 23:44 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Mar 2016, 23:46 ]
21 March 2016

Source: (info)
The sentencing of the political prisoner Nadezhda Savchenko, which started today in the Donetsk City Court of the Rostov region of the Russian Federation, will make it possible to embark on a prisoner swap under the terms of the Minsk agreements.

Radio Svoboda reported a statement to this effect by Mikhail Fedotov, chair of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.

Fedotov also said that if no appeal were lodged within 10 days of the date when the ruling becomes legally binding, it would then be possible to discuss the feasibility of exchanging Savchenko for Russian citizens arrested in Ukraine. Both Nadezhda Savchenko herself and her lawyers have stated on more than one occasion that they do not intend to appeal against the sentence, but the public prosecutor’s office may do so instead.

Savchenko, who has been elected a member of the parliament of Ukraine for the Batkivshchyna party, is being held in pre-trial detention after being charged with involvement in the murder of two Russian journalists in Donbass, having allegedly directed artillery fire by the Ukrainian army. According to the investigators, Savchenko was detained in Russia when she attempted to cross the border without documents, masquerading as a refugee.

Nadezhda Savchenko herself claims that she was unlawfully kidnapped by LNR militants before the journalists died and smuggled onto Russian territory with a bag over her head.

Savchenko has staged long hunger strikes in protest at her arrest, and her health is a cause of serious concern for her lawyers and her family.

The Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow) has recognised Nadezhda Savchenko as a political prisoner.

A more detailed exposition of the Memorial Human Rights Centre’s position on the Savchenko case can be found here.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds