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DONETSK/Rostov region/, October 19. /TASS/. Former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko was released a week after being held captive in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) by order of its current head, Igor Plotnitsky, a militia member told a court in southern Russia on Monday.
Savchenko was caught by LPR militia in June last year along with other prisoners of war and handed over to the Zarya battalion, led by Plotnitsky at that time, Sergey Moiseyev told the hearing, adding that the former Ukrainian pilot said she was an artillery spotter.
"Plotnitsky said she had to be taken rather far off and released. Possibly this was because Savchenko was the only woman among seven captives. I put her in a car and took her to Severny village [in Luhansk region]," he added.
Prosecutors say Savchenko illegally crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border later and was detained in the Voronezh region of central Russia.
Donetsk city court in Russia’s Rostov region is continuing hearings into the Savchenko case on Monday, under way since September 22.
Investigators say Savchenko, a Ukrainian forces officer, joined the Aidar militant battalion and in June of last year was conducting covert surveillance and direction of artillery bombarding a checkpoint in eastern Ukraine's LPR.
Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin died in the shelling. Savchenko is also charged with attempted homicide as six local residents also came under fire. If found guilty, Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison.