March 25, 2016

Verdict in Savchenko case condemned by observers


PARSIPPANY, N.J. – The verdict and sentence announced on March 22 by a Russian court in the fabricated case against Nadiya Savchenko elicited strong reaction from European and U.S. officials, government spokesmen and Ukrainian diaspora organizations.

The unjust conviction of the Ukrainian military pilot and member of the Verkhovna Rada was also the topic of a March 22 telephone conversation between U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.

According to a readout of the call issued by the White House: “Vice-President Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The vice-president condemned the unjust conviction and sentencing of Ukrainian pilot and member of Parliament Nadiya Savchenko and underlined Russia’s obligation under the Minsk agreements to release her. The vice-president emphasized the importance of Ukraine quickly re-establishing a stable government and parliamentary coalition committed to implementing needed reforms. The leaders agreed on the importance of fully implementing all aspects of the Minsk agreements in order to end the suffering of the people living in separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The two leaders also expressed deep sorrow for the victims of today’s horrific terrorist attack in Belgium.”

Following is a compilation of statements on the Savchenko verdict issued on March 22 and 23 in Europe, the United States and Canada.

European Union

The European Union on March 23 released the following statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.

“Despite many calls, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko has been sentenced yesterday.

“We continue to add our voices to the many others worldwide calling on the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nadiya Savchenko, on humanitarian grounds, and in keeping with the ‘Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements’ and the commitment therein to release all hostages and detained persons related to the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“This is also the case for all the other Ukrainian citizens illegally detained in Russia, including Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, that need to be guaranteed a safe return to Ukraine.”

Congressional Ukraine Caucus 

Congressional Ukraine Caucus co-chairs Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and caucus members Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on March 22 released the following statement on the verdict and sentencing of Ukrainian fighter pilot and Member of Parliament Nadiya Savchenko.

“We condemn the verdict and the 22-year sentence issued today against Nadiya Savchenko. Russia’s handling of Savchenko’s capture and trial shows disregard for the rule of law and due process. Since her capture and imprisonment in July 2014 on trumped-up charges, her trial and hearing dates were repeatedly delayed, and the trial venue was moved to a remote region in Russia, difficult for independent observers to reach. Savchenko also endured interrogations, solitary confinement and forced psychiatric evaluations.

“Savchenko has come to represent the spirit of an independent Ukraine, free from interference and eager to embrace the will of its own people. We join the people of Ukraine in expressing deep concern for her wellbeing, and in protesting this unjust outcome. Once again, we call on Russian authorities to release her immediately.”

U.S. Department of State

John Kirby, spokesperson for the State Department, issued the following statement on March 22.

“The conviction and sentencing of Nadiya Savchenko to 22 years imprisonment show a blatant disregard for the principles of justice and contravene Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements.

“For nearly two years, Russia has unjustly detained Savchenko on charges that have no basis in fact and has denied her the basic protections of the rule of law. She has reportedly endured interrogation, solitary confinement, and forced “psychiatric evaluation.”

“Nadiya Savchenko deserves to go home to her family and friends and to join her colleagues in the Rada in building a better future for their country. We reiterate our call on Russia to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko and other unlawfully detained persons.”

Ukrainian Canadian Congress

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) strongly condemned the “verdict” in Russia’s show trial of Ukrainian pilot, Member of Parliament and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe] Lt. Nadiya Savchenko. The UCC statement noted:

“In June 2014, Lt. Savchenko was captured by Russian-backed terrorists in Luhansk Oblast, Ukraine. She was violently and forcibly removed from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

“Today the Russian court found Lt. Savchenko ‘guilty’ of complicity in the murder of two journalists in eastern Ukraine and sentenced her to 22 years in prison. These charges have no basis in fact, the defense was prevented from presenting irrefutable evidence proving Lt. Savchenko’s innocence, and the Russian court where she was being tried has no jurisdiction to try her. The trial and verdict in her case are clearly politically motivated.

“Lt. Savchenko has shown remarkable bravery and determination during the almost two years of her illegal imprisonment. Canada, the United States, the European Union and many international organizations have condemned her illegal imprisonment by Russia and called for Lt. Savchenko’s immediate release.”

Paul Grod, national president of the UCC, stated: “Today we did not hear a verdict in the trial of Nadiya Savchenko. We heard a verdict of the authoritarian, imperialist regime of Russian President Putin. The Russian authorities continue to systematically violate tenets of international law, principles of human rights and freedoms, and basic morality. This farce of a trial – and the continued illegal imprisonment by Russia of several Ukrainian citizens – is an example of the Stalinist tradition that Putin is bent on returning to Russia.”

The UCC also pointed out: “At least 20 Ukrainian citizens are currently illegally imprisoned by Russia – including Lt. Savchenko, Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Stanislav Klikh, Mykola Karpyuk and Akthem Chiygoz. The UCC calls on Canada and her allies to increase international pressure on Russia to secure their immediate release and safe return to Ukraine. The UCC calls on Canada to swiftly adopt Magnitsky legislation to target human rights abusers in Russia, including Russian authorities who continue to illegally imprison Ukrainian citizens.”

Ukrainian Congress Committee
of America

The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America condemned the Savchenko verdict in the following statement issued on March 22.

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, the largest representation of Americans of Ukrainian descent, strongly condemns today’s sentencing by a Russian kangaroo court of Nadiya Savchenko, former Ukrainian Air Force pilot, Iraq war veteran, member of Ukraine’s Parliament and delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“In what was a lengthy nine-month trial, shockingly reminiscent to the show trails of the Stalinist period, and despite mounds of evidence of her innocence, Nadiya Savchenko was sentenced today to 22 years in prison.

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America will never recognize the Russian court’s decision, and calls upon the United States and the international community to demand that the Russian Federation immediately and unconditionally release Nadiya Savchenko.

“#FreeSavchenko Now!”