KIEV, December 25. /TASS/. Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has elected Nadezhda Savchenko to be a member of Ukraine's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Savchenko is a former pilot of the Ukrainian army currently awaiting trial in Russia on charges of complicity to murder of journalists in eastern Ukraine.
According to investigators, during hostilities near eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk in June this year, Savchenko, a Mi-24 helicopter flight navigator, joined Ukraine’s volunteer Aidar battalion. She spotted the location of a group of Russian journalists from the VGTRK television channel and other civilians near Luhansk and transmitted the coordinates to a mortar battery. The mortar shell fired at the target killed two members of the Russian camera crew - Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin.
Savchenko’s lawyers earlier said that the move to include her in Ukraine’s delegation to PACE could be a reason to drop the criminal case in Russia.
Moscow insists she will stand trial and it is for a court to decide whether to release her or not, depending on a verdict of guilty of not guilty.
A source close to investigators told TASS earlier this week that under the Russian law, only Russian lawmakers can enjoy special status during the prosecution.
Savchenko won a seat at Verkhovna Rada in the October 26 parliamentary elections in Ukraine with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party. Her name topped the party’s electoral list.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual news conference on December 18 that Savchenko would be immediately set free if it turned out that she is innocent, but would be punished if her guilt was proven.