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Pardoned ex-pilot Savchenko says ready to become Ukraine’s president

May 27, 2016, 14:24 UTC+3 KIEV

While being in Russian custody, Nadezhda Savchenko was elected to Ukraine’s parliament on the party list of Batkivshchyna led by former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko

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Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and Nadezhda Savchenko

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and Nadezhda Savchenko

© Mikhail Palinchak/Ukrainian president's press service/TASS

KIEV, May 27. /TASS/. Ukrainian pilot-turned-MP Nadezhda Savchenko, who was found guilty in Russia over killing of two journalists in Donbass and released from jail earlier this week, has announced that she is ready to become Ukraine’s president.

"If you need that I become the president, well, I will be the president," Savchenko told a press conference on Friday.

Savchenko has played down her chances of being elected the president saying that she does not believe that "people have learnt to vote not for buckwheat." In Ukraine, "buckwheat" is a slang term meaning "bribing voters."

"I will work where Ukraine needs me," she said, not ruling out that she could again serve in the army.

While already being in Russian custody, Savchenko was elected to Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, on the party list of Batkivshchyna led by former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Savchenko has not ruled out that she could lead the Batkivshchyna party if there is such a need. "If there is no such a need, then I can just work efficiently as its member," she said, assuring that she is not planning to join another party.

At the airport in Kiev, Savchenko refused to accept flowers from Tymoshenko and embrace her. "We do not know each other that well to embrace," she said. The meeting ended only in handshaking.

The Donetsk City Court in Russia’s southern on March 22 to find Savchenko guilty of directing the pro-Kiev forces’ artillery fire in south-east Ukraine that had killed Russian journalists. Savchenko was also found guilty of illegally crossing the Russian border and was sentenced to 22 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 30,000 rubles ($440).

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to pardon Savchenko at the request of the relatives of the killed journalists. The former pilot, who had been in Russian custody for nearly two years, was taken to Kiev onboard the Ukrainian presidential plane on the same day.

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