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Protesters throw iodine bottles and stones at Russian embassy in Kiev

March 09, 2016, 14:44 UTC+3

Protesters have been picketing the building for the third day running, demanding the release of Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko who is suspected of aiding in the murder of Russian journalists

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© ITAR-TASS/Artyom Geodakyan

KIEV, March 9. /TASS/. Several hundred people have again staged a protest rally on Wednesday near the Russian embassy in Kiev. The protesters in the Ukrainian capital have been throwing bottles containing iodine solution at the building, press secretary of the Russian embassy in Kiev Oleg Grishin told TASS.

"There are about 200 people near the embassy now. They are pelting the building with stones and iodine bottles", he said.

Protesters have been picketing the Russian embassy building in Kiev for the third day running, demanding the release of Ukrainian ex-pilot Nadezhda Savchenko who is suspected of aiding in the murder of Russian journalists. Leader of the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) faction in the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) Yulia Timoshenko has joined the protesters at the embassy building.

Reinforced police squads are on duty at the embassy building on Wednesday. There are two rows of policemen cordoning off the embassy’s iron fence.

The protest actions have been going on since March 6. On that day, unknown perpetrators clad in camouflage uniforms and wearing balaclavas damaged with baseball bats cars with Russian diplomatic number plates and threw flares and smoke bombs at the Russian diplomatic mission. According to Grishin, the radicals were well armed and prepared the attack very well.

Russia has filed a note of protest with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, however, the country’s authorities have issued no comment on the attack against the diplomatic mission.

"We have not received an answer yet to our note," Grishin said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that he "fully supports the peaceful actions" in support of Savchenko. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has expressed a similar view.

Savchenko is now under trial in the city of Donetsk in Russia’s Rostov region. She is charged under three articles of the Russian Criminal Code - "murder", "attempted murder" and "illegal border crossing". The victims in the case are the families of the killed journalists, and in the attempted murder case — VGTRK operator Viktor Denisov and a number of residents of Lugansk who came under artillery fire. They refused to participate in the hearing of the sides’ arguments.

The trial against Savchenko began on September 22, 2015. Since July 25, 2015 the defendant has been kept in the SIZO-3 detention facility in Novocherkassk (about 30 km from Rostov-on-Don and 150 km from the Donetsk City Court) from where she is transported to the court hearings. She has been for 1 year and 8 months in custody.

Savchenko, 34, who has been held in Russian custody since July 2014, already went on hunger strike for 83 days last March. Russia’s prosecutor has called for a 23-year prison term and a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400) for Savchenko.

Russia’s investigators say Savchenko, the gunner of a Mi-24 helicopter, 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.

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