The Kremlin has officially pardoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko after two years of imprisonment and a farce trial in exchange for two Russia Special Forces servicemen.
The Ukrainian and Russian governments did not offer any details about the exchange. But journalists in Ukraine “noted that a Ukrainian presidential aircraft had flown to the airport of Rostov-on-Don, a southern Russian city close to the Ukrainian border.”
It came back at 3PM local time with Savchenko on board.
She says: “I want to thank everyone who fought for me, for everyone, for everyone who is in prison to be free. I want to thank those who wished me well – I’m alive because of you! I also want to thank those who wished me ill – to spite you.”
Her sister posted this photo on Facebook:
— euronews (@euronews) May 25, 2016
Savchenko spoke at a joint press conference with Poroshenko.
— The Bankova (@TheBankova) May 25, 2016
Poroshenko said Ukraine will keep fighting to bring home other prisoners:
“This is just the beginning, because we are waiting for Soloshenko, Afanasyev, Sentsov, Kolchenko to return home and many other Ukrainians, who are now held hostage in Russia as well as in the militant-held occupied territories (in eastern Ukraine). I am very pleased that now Nadiya could join this struggle,” the Ukrainian leader said.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) May 25, 2016
Poroshenko gave her the Order of Hero, one of the top honors in Ukraine.
— UCMC (@uacrisis) May 25, 2016
Pro-Russian soldiers in east Ukraine captured Savchenko, “the first woman to graduate from Ukraine’s Air Force University in 2009,” in June 2014 and given to Russia. The government claimed she killed two Russian state journalists covering the war in Ukraine.
The Russian courts dragged out her trial and detention, leading to a war of words between the two countries. Savchenko tried a hunger strike while the Ukrainian parliament made her a Ukrainian delegate, which gave her parliamentary immunity. But Russia did not release her.DONATE
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