Jailed in Russia, Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko has been awarded the title ‘Hero of Ukraine’ as fears grow for her health more than two months after she began a hunger strike.
Held on charges of aiding the killing of two Russian journalists, Savchenko protests her innocence.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on Monday, declaring her a national hero, saying she had become “a symbol of the strength of the Ukrainian spirit”.
The 33-year-old was captured by pro-Russian forces while fighting in a volunteer battalion in east Ukraine last June.
Russia claims she had provided the coordinates of two Russian
journalists killed by a mortar attack.
Large crowds rallied for her release in Kyiv on Sunday, including former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, herself detained under the regime of Ukraine’s ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych.
If convicted, Savchenko faces up to 20 years in jail.