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American envoy to UN urges Russia to release Ukraine’s pilot Savchenko

March 10, 2016, 9:56 UTC+3 UN

According to Samantha Power, Russia’s trial over Nadezhda Savchenko allegedly violates Minsk Accords, aimed at settling the continued conflict in Ukraine

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Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

© Valery Matytsyn/TASS

UN, March 10. /TASS/. Samantha Power, the US permanent envoy to the United Nations, said charges against ex-Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is accused of directing artillery fire that killed Russian journalists, are groundless and urged Moscow to release the jailed Ukrainian national.

"Nadiya Savchenko, a former Ukrainian pilot and current member of Ukraine’s parliament, was abducted in eastern Ukraine on June 17, 2014 and taken across the border to Russia, where she remains detained on baseless charges," Power said in a statement posted on the official website of the United States Mission to the United Nations.

According to the American diplomat, Russia’s trial over Savchenko allegedly violates Minsk Accords, aimed at settling the continued conflict in Ukraine.

"Russia’s continued detention of Savchenko demonstrates blatant disregard for its commitments under the Minsk agreements," Power said in her statement. "Savchenko - as well as all Ukrainians who are being held illegally by separatists and by Russia - should be free."

The judge in the case of Savchenko announced on Wednesday that the verdict would be announced on March 21-22.

The Russian prosecution called for a 23-year prison term for Savchenko as well as for a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400). The Ukrainian is charged with murder, attempted murder and illegal border crossing.

Last week, the 34-year-old woman told the court 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.

The trial of Savchenko began in southern Russia on September 22, 2015. The former Ukrainian pilot is in custody of the Russian authorities for over a year and a half.

Russia’s investigators claim that Savchenko, as a member the pro-Kiev Aidar nationalist battalion, conducted hidden surveillance to direct artillery fire in mid-June of 2014 against a checkpoint in the war-torn Ukraine’s eastern Lugansk region. The targeted location at that time was reportedly 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) were killed in the ensued shelling.

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