By Zoya Svetova, Russian human rights activist/journalist, for Open Russia
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine senior staff
The Ukrainian pilot announced her hunger strike in the women’s detention center SIZO-6 on Dec. 13, 2014. On January 17, prison doctors decided that Savchenko’s state was deteriorating and sent her to the hospital prison ‘Matrosskaya Tishina’ by ’emergency ambulance.’ The Ukrainian pilot was placed in a special block of the hospital, which Savchenko herself calls the “golden cage.”
In the newly renovated, freshly painted ‘spetsblock’ [special unit] hospital, besides Nadiya Savchenko, there are no other prisoners. In one of the cells, which impresses with its bright tiles, gray tables, white tables, a separate shower and a modern toilet – is a badly emaciated Nadiya Savchenko. She sits in a cell alone, but she is followed by close observation. In the next cell a so-called ‘surveillance post’ is set up, equipped with video equipment, at which a prison officer must always be specifically assigned. In the third chamber – is a treatment room with weights and a sustained [IV] drip. Here Nadiya Savchenko is examined by a doctor, and here she is put on an IV drip. [Ed: previously it was stated this was a glucose drip to prevent dizziness, eye rolling, fainting. Nadiya’s sister Vera stated separately that they have added amino acids to the drip because of recent blood count tests].
In this way, the Ukrainian pilot is ensured complete isolation from all other prisoners. For a walk, Savchenko goes to the exercise yard on the roof, accompanied by a guard dog.
– Physically, I feel fine. Mentally – it sucks. How else can a person feel in prison? In Ukraine, we are not born slaves.
– When we met with you on January 8 in SIZO-6, you said that you will keep up the hunger strike until February. What have you decided now? And under what conditions will you stop it?
– I said that I would hunger strike until all this nonsense ends. An alibi exists, proving my innocence. I did not kill Russian journalists. I never shoot at unarmed people.
– If the court changes the restraint measure to house arrest, you will be accommodated, for example, in the Ukrainian consulate in Moscow, will you stop the hunger strike?
– Yes, of course, and my mom will come and cook me borscht. I do not cherish any hope in the court. I understand that if they need to demonstratively punish a “Ukrainian fascist” for the murder of Russian citizens, then they will punish. Now they showed me the charge of crossing the border, although they themselves took me into Russia.
– Are there any investigative actions being conducted with you?
– I’ve already even forgotten what the investigator looks like. He has not visited me since the New Year. I am already in my eighth month under investigation. Examination of my military uniform still has not been carried out. With all of this it is necessary to tie it together: either by law, or politically.
– But the Russian government does not give in to blackmail, and your hunger strike – is a kind of blackmail.
– I understand. Spit finds itself on stone. [Ed.: a saying meaning they’ve locked horns]. A ‘goldfish’ while in their hands. It would be easier to die in combat in Ukraine than in prison in Russia. For the sake of what should I live in a Russian prison for 25 years?
– Are not you afraid that you are going to get worse, and the body will not withstand the hunger strike?
– I was in two wars, and am ready to die in the name of justice. Your prime minister Medvedev said that if they cut off the SWIFT system, Russia is ready for all sorts of measures. I am also ready for all sorts of measures. I am holding on by strength of willpower. I will go to the end.
– Have you heard about the case of Svetlana Davydova?
– Yes, I would very much like to write her a letter of support. I hope that Russians will fight for one of their own. It’s time to get up off one’s knees. Her child is two months old, how can one put a nursing mother in prison in harsh conditions?
(The conversation with Nadiya Savchenko was held in the ‘Matrusskaya Tishina’ jail on February 3, before the release of Svetlana Davydova from ‘Lefortovo’ prison. – RR)
– The conditions in Ukrainian prisons are no better than conditions in our prisons.
– This does not surprise me. After all, we come from one [Soviet] Union. We will change the situation.
– How can you change the situation in Ukraine, if you die, unable to withstand the hunger strike?
– The loss of one soldier – is not a lost war.
– The situation may change, and you may be released. Is it worth risking one’s life?
– I admire Nelson Mandela and respect Khodorkovsky. They sat and waited and proved their innocence. For the Russian delegation to PACE there was a good way out of the situation: agree to release me from custody in exchange for keeping the Russian delegation at PACE. It did not happen. [Ed.: the right to vote was taken away from the Russian delegates and they walked out].
– Are not you afraid that if your condition worsens, doctors at ‘Matrusskaya Tishina’ will force feed you?
– I will write a statement to the chief physician and head of the detention center, that I will consider force-feeding to be torture. I will die then.
Source: Open Russia