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DONETSK (Rostov region), March 9. /TASS/. Pronouncement of verdict in the case of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko will begin at the southern Russian court on March 21 and will take two days, a TASS correspondent reported.
"The court retires to announce the judgement on March 21 at 11.00 a.m. and March 22 at 11 a.m.," the judge said.
Russia’s prosecutor has earlier called for a 23-year prison term and a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400) for Savchenko. She is charged with murder, attempted murder and illegal border crossing.
The 34-year-old woman told the court last week she could come back to Ukraine "either dead or alive." Savchenko said she would go on a ‘dry’ hunger strike if the court delayed the decision.
Lawyer Mark Feygin told reporters the defense team proved innocence of Savchenko during the preliminary investigation and she should be acquitted. "The only possible verdict is acquittal," he stressed.
Russia’s authorities need to promise that Savchenko will be handed over to Ukraine after the verdict and then she may end her hunger strike. "Until Savchenko hears a clear answer that she will be definitely sent to Ukraine we can hardly stop her hunger strike," he said.
Another lawyer Nikolay Polozov did not rule out that Savchenko may be force-fed until the verdict. "There are almost two weeks left until the pronouncement of the verdict. A person cannot withstand that long on a ‘dry’ hunger strike. She will either be subjected to force-feeding or die," he said.
Talks on the possible exchange of former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko are not being held and cannot take place until the verdict, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
"Negotiations on swap of Savchenko were not held and are not being held. This can happen neither in theory nor in practice until the court’s decision," Zakharova said.
The trial of Savchenko began in southern Russia on September 22. Savchenko has been held in Russian custody for already a year and 8 months.
Russia’s investigators say Savchenko joined the Aidar militant battalion and in June 2014 conducted covert surveillance and direction of artillery bombarding targeting a checkpoint in the much-troubled Lugansk region. The settlement was full of civilians, including three Russian journalists.
Two Russian journalists - Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin - from the All-Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (VGTRK) died in the shelling.