Moscow court rejects Ukraine ex-pilot Nadiya Savchenko's appeal

Moscow court rejects Ukraine ex-pilot Nadiya Savchenko's appeal
By Alasdair Sandford with AP, AFP, Reuters, Radio Free Europe
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A district court in Moscow has turned down an appeal for the release of Ukraine's former military pilot, who has been on hunger strike following her capture last year.

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A Moscow court has rejected an appeal for the temporary release of Ukrainian former military pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

The officer, who has been on hunger strike since December, had asked to travel to Strasbourg to attend a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe – following her symbolic election to the Ukrainian parliament.

Savchenko appeared in court on the 82nd day of a hunger strike to protest against her imprisonment and the charges she faces.

She denies involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow claims she provided the coordinates for the mortar attack that killed them.

President Petro Poroshenko has written to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin calling for the ex-pilot’s immediate release.

“I have sent a letter to President Putin with an appeal for immediate freedom for Nadiya Savchenko, including for medical reasons,” Poroshenko said in a press conference after meeting Italian premier Matteo Renzi.

Savchenko has lost over 20 kilograms since going on strike.

Earlier this week the Ukrainian leader officially declared her a national hero.

Last Sunday large crowds rallied for Savchenko’s release in Kyiv, where she’s seen as a symbol of resistance to Russian aggression.

She claims she was kidnapped by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine last June and illegally transferred to Russia.

If convicted in Russia, she faces up to 20 years in jail.

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