#FreeSavchenko, by Mariya Diordichuk
Nadiya Savchenko spent her 34th birthday jailed in Russia. It was the 329th day of her illegal detention and imprisonment without trial. People all over the world sent their birthday wishes to the Ukrainian pilot that has become a symbol of Ukraine’s independence in the #FreeSavchenko day of global support on 11 May 2015, holding rallies and participating in a twitter storm with the hashtag #FreeSavchenko, which gathered roughly 38,000 tweets.
This is not the first day of global support for the Ukrainian POW. On 5 January 2015, the first twitter storm was held, after which a journalist raised the question of the illegal imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko to Jen Psaki; global actions and twitter storms followed on January 26 and March 1. But for Ronald Wendling, it was the 32nd time (28 weekly vigils and four extraordinary events) that his group of Berlin activists came to the Russian embassy, demanding to release Nadiya.
“People who fall for political reasons in a captivity, wherever in the world, mostly have few opportunities themselves to resist the illegal detention. Therefore, they need the support of those who live in freedom. There is such a thing as a moral duty here.
Many people who have to undergo an illegal captivity will carry permanent damage with it. You get sick. Not always the same, often many years later. And then it will be bad for the people concerned. Even so it is important that these people receive support from us. And they have to learn it. As Nadija also. If she knows and learns again and again, she is not alone, all over the world, people strive for it then it stronger and survives this illegal captivity easier.”
In the evening, the Russian embassy was illuminated with #FreeSavchenko projections.
Internet users from all over the world sent Nadiya Savchenko their greetings. Among them were a handful of politicians that continue publicly calling upon Russia to release Savchenko and other political prisoners.
— US Mission to NATO (@USNATO) May 11, 2015
Tomorrow is Nadiya Savchenko's birthday. Wishing her a happy birthday in spite of her unjust imprisonment in Russia. #FreeSavchenko
— Samantha Power (@AmbassadorPower) May 10, 2015
— Lithuania MFA (@LithuaniaMFA) May 11, 2015
Nadiya received greetings and support from all over the world: Newcastle, Seattle, Bordeaux, Dnipropetrovsk, Sloviansk, Mariupol, Turin, New York, Sofia, Naples, Berlin, Tehran, Warsaw, Kyiv, Austin, Moscow, St.Petersburg, Porto rallied in her support.
In Porto, Portugal, activists held a “waiting in vain” action in front of the station São Bento, where they explained to passerbyers the situation with Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.
В День народження Надії Савченко українці провели акцію “Марні очікування” на estação São Bento Porto в підтримку політичних в”язнів.
Posted by Чахлик Невмирущий on Tuesday, May 12, 2015
In Kyiv and Paris, activists took to street art to bring attention to Nadiya’s case.
In Russia, actions to support Nadiya were traditionally marked by arrests and police intimidation. In Moscow, activists were detained for their flags and signs at Nadiya’s prison:
— Alya Shandra (@AlyaShandra) May 12, 2015
At a demo near the Moscow FSB office, three journalists and four activists were arrested. The journalists were released later, the activists are still under custody.
Amazingly enough, in St.Petersburg the activists were allowed to stage a small rally.
A letter-writing campaign to mail Nadiya Savchenko a birthday card had been taking place weeks before her birthday. Many people had joined and organized mass writing of letters to Nadiya’s prison cell, including Geoffrey Pyatt, US ambassador to Ukraine.
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@GeoffPyatt) May 11, 2015
Ms.Savchenko has thanked her supporters “for sharing their strength with her” in a letter from prison.
Nadiya Savchenko has been recently additionally charged with illegally crossing the Russian border, additionally to charges with being an accomplice to the killing of two journalists. Ms.Savchenko’s defense has presented solid alibis that have been ignored by the court. According to Michael Newton, an expert in international law, Russia commits war crimes by imprisoning Savchenko.