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Ukraine pilot Savchenko defies judge in final statement

Ms Savchenko struck a defiant note in her appearance on WednesdayA Ukrainian pilot on trial in Russia over the killing of two journalists has addressed the court and says she will continue a hunger strike she has been on for five days.

Nadia Savchenko was making her closing statement in the trial.

She denies directing artillery fire at the Russian journalists in June 2014.

She is reported to have refused all food and drink since 3 March when the hearing was adjourned before she could make her final statement.

At one point in her appearance on Wednesday, she leapt onto the bench inside the cage and showed the judges her middle finger, the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford reports from the court in Donetsk in southern Russia, where the trial is being held.

She mocked the judges in Ukrainian, saying they were proving that Russians were “fascists”.

A translator read out her formal, final statement in which she proclaims her innocence and describes her trial as a “farce”.

The EU and US have both called for her immediate release.
Ms Shavchenko's mother said she had tried to dissuade her daughter from her hunger strike, but to no avail

A verdict in the case is due on or around 21 March but her lawyers have said she will not survive that long unless she is force-fed.

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She was captured in 2014 at the height of the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels.

The 34-year-old insists the whole case against her is politically motivated, and she has become a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance against Russia.

She says she was kidnapped by rebel fighters at least an hour before the attack in which the two Russian TV journalists were killed.

Her detention has sparked protests in both Ukraine, as seen here, and in Russia

Ukrainian consuls in the Russian region of Rostov say judges in the case are refusing to issue any more permits to visit Ms Savchenko in prison.

Her relatives have also used up all their visiting permits, meaning a group of Ukrainian doctors en route from Kiev to visit her will also not be given access.

The EU has expressed concern about Ms Savchenko’s wellbeing, and Nobel prize-winner Svitlana Aleksievich is among more than 4,300 signatories to an open letter urging European leaders to act to secure her freedom.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine – along with its Western allies – have deteriorated following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and its support for pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

 

Sourc: BBC

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