Nadiya Viktorivna Savchenko (Ukrainian: Надія Вікторівна Савченко) (born on May 11, 1981) is a Ukrainian politician and former pilot in the Ukrainian Ground Forces. She currently sits on the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in absentia due to being imprisoned in Russia.
During the 2014 War in Donbass, Savchenko, a first lieutenant in the Ukrainian Ground Forces, was captured by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and handed over to Russia, where she was charged with the murder of two Russian journalists. In November 2014, while still imprisoned, Savchenko was elected to the Verkhovna Rada in the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election, and she formally resigned from her military post. One of her lawyers, Mark Feygin, says she is a prisoner-of-war and has called on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to demand her immediate release and that of the other Ukrainian POWs lest Russia be held in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The US State department has also urged her release without conditions while Russian authorities maintain that she is a security risk and part of a paramilitary extremist group entering Russia under false pretenses to commit acts of sabotage against the Russian State.
Savchenko was one of Ukraine’s first women to train as an airplane pilot, and is the only female aviator to pilot the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber and the Mil Mi-24 helicopter.
- 1 Life and military career
- 2 Capture by Donbass People’s Militia
- 3 Detention and trial in Russia
- 4 Political career (since 2014)
- 5 Public image
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Life and military career
Nadiya Savchenko and her younger sister Vira were born in Kyiv. Their father was an agricultural engineer, their mother a designer and cargo manager. Her sister Vira said in an interview that she and her sister were brought up in a Ukrainian-speaking household and attending Ukrainian-language schools.
At 16, Savchenko was already determined to become a pilot. She joined the Ukrainian Army, working as a radio operator with the country’s railway forces before training as a paratrooper. She was then the only Ukrainian female soldier in the (2004–2008) Ukrainian peacekeeping troops in Iraq. Upon returning, she successfully petitioned the Defense Ministry for the right to attend the prestigious Air Force University in Kharkiv, which until then had been open only to men; she graduated in 2009.
In 2010, she was posted to the 3rd Army Aviation Regiment in Brody, Lviv Oblast. In 2011, the Ukraine Defense Forces published a 20-minute documentary about Savchenko and her military career. She also featured in a United Nations Development Program as part of a drive to promote equality in the Ukrainian military. In 2014, she volunteered as an instructor in the Aidar Battalion.
Capture by Donbass People’s Militia
During the 2014 pro-Russian conflict in Ukraine, Savchenko fought as a volunteer in the east of Ukraine in the Aidar Battalion. On June 17, 2014, at 10:46 am she was captured near the village of Metalist, Slovianoserbsk Raion, by members of the Donbass People’s Militia, an armed pro-Russian militant group that declared allegiance to the self-declared People’s Republic of Luhansk. On June 19 a video of her interrogation at an undisclosed location appeared on the internet; she was shown handcuffed to a metal pipe. On June 20, the chief of counterintelligence Vladimir Gromov said that Savchenko was being well treated. On June 22, there were media reports that Savchenko had been transferred to Donetsk.
Detention and trial in Russia
On July 8, 2014, there were media reports that Nadiya Savchenko was being kept in a detention center in city of Voronezh, Russia. On July 9, Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee (a federal agency subordinate to the Russian President) confirmed that Savchenko was indeed held in Voronezh, where she is facing charges of complicity in the June 17 killing of two Russian journalists, Igor Vladimirovich Kornelyuk (a correspondent for All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company), and sound producer Anton Voloshin, who died during a mortar attack on a rebel checkpoint outside Luhansk. Ukrainian officials said the reporters did not comply with safety requirements and were not accredited. According to Savchenko’s defence team, she is alibied by the billing data for Savchenko’s and Kornelyuk’s mobile phones, provided by Ukrainian Security Service, as she had already been captured by the Russian-backed separatists one hour before the mortar attack that killed Russian journalists.