Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko has been arrested in Russia on false charges of aiding in killing Russian journalists in Eastern Ukraine. She is defended by Mark Feygin, a Russian lawyer known for his defense of Pussy Riot members in 2012. In an interview to Russian Echo Moskvy radio station he sheds more light on Nadya’s story.
OLGA BYCHKOVA: Now we are turning our attention to Voronezh, where the Ukrainian soldier Nadiya Savchenko is being held under arrest. She’s asking to initiate a criminal case on her kidnapping. And this story is getting more details. According to the Investigation Committee, she was detained during an ID check in a settlement in Russia. Now we are hearing different versions of how she could turn up in Russia. We’ll discuss it with Nadiya Savchenko’s lawyer. Now we are trying to reach him. Hello, Mark!
MARK FEYGIN: Hello!
O. BYCHKOVA: Please tell us what’s known about how Nadiya Savchenko turned up in Voronezh.
М. Feygin: It’s definitely known that Luhansk militia transferred her to the Russian law enforcement authorities, to the Voronezh region, and that the transfer was illegal. Essentially it’s article 126 [of the Russian criminal code] “Kidnapping”. There are no other versions, because the materials submitted by the investigators in their plea for arrest contain no facts confirming her lawful entrance to the Russian Federation. 300 pages of various documents… and nothing of the kind. The Investigation Committee’s statement that she was detained in Russia after voluntarily crossing the border is also not confirmed by any materials.
V. BOIKO: What are the investigators writing anyway? We’ve only seen 5 lines of a press-release so far.
М. Feygin: Actually, that’s pretty much it. It’s an unsupported statement, nothing more.
О. BYCHKOVA: Do you mean there is no documentary evidence of her crossing the Russian border voluntarily?
М. Feygin: None at all.
V. BOIKO: Neither there are the names of the people who located and detained her, right?
М. Feygin: That would look different, because chapter 12 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for a special order of detainment of foreigners and stateless persons, special detainment papers are to be compiled noting attesting witnesses, seizures, searches… Well, it’s called a personal inspection, not a search.
O. BYCHKOVA: I see.
М. Feygin: And so on. So the papers can tell you when and where she was detained. What really happened is that during the last decade of June she was transferred and held at the “Evro” hotel guarded by two unidentified people…
О. BYCHKOVA: Was that in Luhansk?
М. Feygin: Why? That was in Voronezh. In Luhansk she was held as a captive on the territory controlled by Luhansk militia. There’s that.
O. BYCHKOVA: What is known about how she got into the hands of the Luhansk militia?
М. Feygin: Well, she was captured. She commanded… Actually, she was an informal commander of an auxiliary force responsible for moving the dead and wounded out of the combat zone. And that force operated in the vicinity of the place the tragedy with Russian journalists happened. They were killed by some random fire, it’s even not known who fired those shots…
V. BOIKO: Well, that’s another story.
O. BYCHKOVA: Right. So all you are talking about now, how she carried out the wounded and just happened to be nearby – we’ve read all that. And you’re saying it’s confirmed now.
М. Feygin: Absolutely. There are no other ways to confirm that except addressing the Ukrainian authorities and getting documentary evidence from them. The criminal prosecution code does not give us the right… Well, there’s a document on legal cooperation between Russia and Ukraine. You can only offer the Ukrainian law enforcement the evidence of a crime, there is no other way. I mean, a Russian investigator cannot go to Luhansk and conduct any investigation there to be deemed by the court as sufficient to accuse or support the accusation in court when the merits of the case are examined. It means that a Russian investigator cannot single-handedly perform seizures, line-ups or any other investigation right where the events took place. He can only do so in cooperation with the Ukrainian law enforcement.
V. BOIKO: Have you seen Nadiya Savchenko for yourself? What’s her condition? What can you tell us on the access of international observers and representatives of Ukraine to her?
М. Feygin: Yesterday I saw her for the first time in the Voronezh jail No3. Today I talked to her for about five hours together with my colleagues Nikolai Polozov and Ilya Novikov who are also in this case as her defense. She is in a good condition and no illegal actions have been performed on her. No one tortured her. No one used physical force against her in Russia. So in this regard she’s O.K.
O. BYCHKOVA: Is there an explanation for why she turned up in Voronezh of all places?
М. Feygin: There can be only one explanation: the Russian law enforcement were ordered, I believe, ultimately from the Kremlin, to find a scapegoat for the death of Russian journalists. She was the one that suited them because she is an Ukrainian military officer. I believe they had no one else they could believably prosecute. That’s why she was turned into some political bargaining chip.
O. BYCHKOVA: Why Voronezh? Of all places? Why not Moscow, for instance?
М. Feygin: They are going for formal detainment. They are telling she crossed the border with Voronezh oblast of Russia. The investigation is surely taking place in Moscow.
O. BYCHKOVA: We’ve read on the social media that they’d put a bag over her head and moved her from Ukraine to Russia that way. Any facts or specifics on that?
М. Feygin: She was transported with a bag on her head, from one car to another, from one settlement in Ukraine and later Russia to another. They changed a total of 5 cars. Some had no number plates. She tells me a lot of cars in the Ukrainian South-East go without state number plates. The cars were of Soviet and Russian build – Ladas, Nivas, etc. And she was transported with a bag on her head.
O. BYCHKOVA: Did she go all the way in cars?
М. Feygin: Right.
O. BYCHKOVA: Not planes? Not anything else?
М. Feygin: No, no. These were ordinary cars, they probably transferred her to our special forces after crossing the border. So none of the kind. That’s how it was. By cars.
V. BOIKO: And another question: what about the access of Ukrainian and international representatives to the jail?
М. Feygin: Before yesterday Gennadiy Breskalenko, the Ukrainian consul in Russia, was denied access to her. After the three of us lawyers had arrived he immediately was allowed in with us. That happened on Wednesday in the afternoon. In the morning he still hadn’t been allowed in.
O. BYCHKOVA: Mark, last question: What legal actions and procedures will take place now?
М. Feygin: Take place? They are taking place already.
O. BYCHKOVA: I see.
М. Feygin: We have appealed to the Novousmanovskiy court. We’ve also submitted a claim to the Investigation Committee to initiate a criminal case on kidnapping. Then after passing the Novousmanovskiy court we will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. I believe we’ll also appeal the decision to name her an accused. Now we are thinking about how to do that. We’ll also appeal to several international organizations that can make requests to Russia concerning international obligations on kidnapping prevention. They’ll address Russia on this issue. Firstly, there are the diplomatic organizations. Some others as well, to get a supported answer how a citizen of Ukraine and a military person turned up in Russia. I think that will take some time, but basically that is what it will entail.
O. BYCHKOVA: Thank you very much. This was Mark Feygin, the lawyer of Ukrainian military officer Nadiya Savchenko detained in Ukraine and currently held in a Voronezh jail.
Translated by Kirill Mikhailov