Nadiya's case: why the world calls to #FreeSavchenko
329 Imprisoned for 329 days 329 83 days on hunger strike 329 Over 700 000 tweets to #FreeSavchenko
 
11 May 2015  marks an extraordinary 329 days since Nadiya Savchenko was forcibly kidnapped from her native Ukraine to Russia. Over this time, she came close to death during an 83-day hunger strike and garnered worldwide attention, but still remains unjustly imprisoned in Moscow. There have been over 700,000 #FreeSavchenko tweets. Politicians and governments from all over the world have demanded that Savchenko be freed. Here’s what you should know about Nadiya Savchenko and why you should care.
 Go to facebook event>>>Twitter storm on May 11! Clickable tweets here>>>
1. Savchenko was kidnapped from Ukraine, defending her country
Nadiya Savchenko is a Ukrainian pilot, an elected Ukrainian MP, and PACE delegate. She served as a peacekeeper in Iraq, the only woman in the brigade. After masked Russian troops occupied Crimea and Russian-sponsored militants began an armed uprising in Ukraine’s East, Nadiya volunteered to defend her country as part of the Aidar battalion.
At approximately 10:30 AM on 17 June 2014, Nadiya was kidnapped by pro-Russia militants cooperating with Russian security forces near the Ukrainian city of Luhansk and forcibly taken across the border to Russia.
#FreeSavchenko, a Ukrainian soldier forcefully abducted to Russia
2. Savchenko has been held prisoner in Russia without trial for almost a year
During that time she has endured numerous human rights injustices, indignities and intimidations: she has been interrogated without the presence of a lawyer, denied consular visits, barred from receiving letters, books, and visitors, forced to undergo “psychiatric evaluation” at Moscow’s Serbsky Center, the notorious mental hospital that has been using punitive psychiatry against political dissidents since the Soviet era. For example, Patrushev, Gorbanevska, Grigorinko, Narits, Bukovski, Esenin-Volgin.  Solzhenitsyn, Feron, Marchenko and others wrote about this hospital. Nadiya Savchenko has been declared a political prisoner by Russia’s human rights foundation Memorial. The European parliament has named her a prisoner of war and called for her release.

#FreeSavchenko – a POW held hostage in Russia

3. Savchenko is innocent; Russia's case a farce
Russia continues to contrive multiple dubious charges against Nadiya. Some make no sense and all have been refuted by her defense counsel:
Nadiya is accused of being an accessory to murder by allegedly using her phone to direct mortar fire at two Russian journalists that died at a checkpoint near Luhansk. These allegations are false. They’re based on anonymous and self-serving testimonies of pro-Russia militants in Donbas and the video testimony of a Ukrainian soldier who has since admitted he was under physical and psychological pressure and said what he was told to say. Further proof that their testimonies are false is her mobile phone data, which shows she was not even there at the time. In fact, at the time the journalists were killed, Nadiya had already been taken prisoner by the militants and had been in their custody for over an hour. Based on that alibi alone, Savchenko is innocent and should be released.
Checkpoints are notoriously the most dangerous places in war zones. These journalists were tragically caught in the crossfire of battle at a known checkpoint in a war zone, in Ukraine. A war Russia started and denies any involvement in. How can Russia even charge Savchenko as an accessory to murder in a war zone when she was a soldier? Russia finds ways.
Nadiya is accused of illegally crossing the border. In Putin’s Russia, you first abduct somebody and then accuse them of crossing the border illegally. In an attempt to explain how she ended up in their jurisdiction, Russian officials have changed their story a few times. First they claimed Savchenko fled Ukraine as a refugee seeking asylum in Russia. Then on 24 April 2015 they slapped new charges against her for an “illegal border crossing.”
“I was taken to Russia against my will handcuffed and with a bag over my head.” – N. Savchenko

#FreeSavchenko –  demand justice for an innocent woman
4. Russia is violating international law
What right does Russia have to arrest or try a Ukrainian citizen for alleged crimes committed not on its territory, but on the territory of Ukraine, in the first place? None. Especially if it is not a party to the war in Ukraine, as it repeatedly claims.
  1. Nadiya’s case is a blatant violation of international law. Russian courts have no jurisdiction over Ukrainian citizens on Ukrainian soil. Is Russia acknowledging that it is in charge of military operations there, i.e. that it is occupying Ukraine? No, so her detention is illegal.
  2. Nadiya is a POW, according to the Geneva convention, and cannot be charged with a criminal offense at all: she is answerable to international justice under the laws of war.
  3. According to the Second Minsk agreements between Russia and Ukraine, all parties agreed that all hostages be released. There were no exceptions. Yet Russia refuses to honor its agreement.
  4. Nadiya has diplomatic immunity as a PACE delegate and as a member of Ukraine’s Parliament. The international community has repeatedly called to release Savchenko.

But that’s nothing new for Russia, which annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in defiance of all international laws and continues to wage a brutal proxy war in Ukraine’s Donbas.
#FreeSavchenko – Russia must not be allowed to trample international law
5. Savchenko bravely stands up for freedom for Ukraine and Russia
In going on an 83-day hunger strike, during which she lost 25 kilos of weight, Nadiya Savchenko stood up to Putin’s corrupt regime. Protesting against bizarre charges and Soviet-style justice in Russia, Nadiya Savchenko’s big heart and unbreakable spirit has made her a symbol of Ukraine’s strength and independence, standing up to a brutal Russian invasion.
While Putin’s Russia is sliding into fascism, one of the few voices that speaks out against the repressions is that of a starved woman behind bars and under the surveillance of 10 guards. Speaking at the Basmanny court on 17 April 2015, Nadiya said: “You are living as if it’s the times of KGB repression. I am still a free person, even behind these bars. In fact, I am the only free person here. I have the right to speak.”

In addressing the Russian activists who were brave enough to call for her release, Nadiya assured them: Russia and Ukraine will prevail over the powers of evil and malevolence.”

#FreeSavchenko – because Russians and Ukrainians deserve to live in a democratic society
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6. Putin wants you to be silent about Savchenko
Over recent months the campaign to #FreeSavchenko has brought more global awareness, with hundreds of articles published by major news organisations, much to the distress of the Kremlin, who cherish nothing more than the world’s silence to the plight of Nadiya and other political prisoners.
With trumped up charges, an untrustworthy judicial system, and continued defiance of international laws and agreements, the only way to free political prisoner Nadiya Savchenko is to exert political pressure on the Kremlin – loudly, clearly and often.
Savchenko supporters have brought real-time pressure on Russia: every day, governments, politicians, and organisations keep asking Russia about Nadiya’s case and urging for her release. Without such constant public pressure, the Kremlin will hold out and be evasive as long as it can. It also knows that in any future talks/press conferences etc. about Ukraine, Nadiya’s case will now inevitably come up. And if Nadiya is released, it will be a trigger for the other political prisoners held by the Kremlin.

#FreeSavchenko and other political prisoners
7. So be Nadiya’s voice, demand for Russia to #FreeSavchenko
The Kremlin thought Nadiya would have broken by now and just plead guilty. That’s why they keep extending her detention and have avoided putting her on trial. They know there is no evidence of her guilt. And a trial could end by backfiring by revealing Russia’s military role in Ukraine. And that’s why Russia hates questions about Savchenko.
We are her voice.  We don’t have to sit by and watch Russia violate international law and Nadiya’s human rights – we can raise our voices to tell the world about her, to raise awareness of her case so decision makers and world leaders can use their voices to put pressure on Putin.
And if we do nothing, say nothing, then we not only let her down. We let a criminal regime get away with its bullying. And when no one stands up to aggressive bullies, they continue their aggression. We know this from history. Where does it stop?

On Nadiya's birthday, 11 May 2015, join the #FreeSavchenko campaign
Here are four ways you can help set Nadiya free on May 11:
  1. Sign up for the fb event, keep track of the news
  2. Tweet #FreeSavchenko, take part in the twitter storm (easy clickable tweets here!)
  3. Organize a rally in your town, release #FreeSavchenko balloons
  4. Translate this article (instructions here) and send to your media

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