Savchenko trial ‘nothing but farce’, says Lithuanian president’s adviser

Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko
AP/Scanpix

“Nothing but farce. The entire trial, if you call it so, is staged, charges against Savchenko have no basis in reality, according to both international observers and experts. And what we see now is a circus,” Renaldas Vaisbrodas, adviser to President Dalia Grybauskaitė, told Žinių Radijas on Tuesday.

Savchenko, 34, was captured by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 during the separatist conflict there and handed over to Russia where she was charged with directing mortar fire which killed two Russian journalists.

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On Monday, the court in the Russian town of Donetsk near the Ukrainian border handed a guilty verdict. Prosecutors have asked the court to sentence her to 23 years in prison. Savchenko hopes she will be returned to Ukraine before too long as part of an exchange deal between Moscow and Kiev and has been on hunger strike to try to speed up the trial and its outcome.

Vaisbrodas says that the case against Savchenko is a show trial intended for the Russian public. “It is a message for domestic consumption,” the presidential adviser says.

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“The trial takes place in the town of Donetsk, there’s a lot of symbolism, and this symbolic message means that the Russian system does not allow for alternative opinions, the Russian system crushes its opponents. And the Russian system continues to resist Ukraine’s aspirations of freedom, something that Savchenko stands for as an elected MP and a military pilot,” Vaisbrodas says.

Lithuania has criticized the trial on numerous occasions, saying that Russia captured Savchenko in Ukraine and transported across the border in violation of international law.

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