Maria Stanislav for Voices of Ukraine
Edited by Voices of Ukraine
On May 6, 2015, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court held yet another hearing in the case of Nadiya Savchenko, whose ongoing detention by the Russian authorities continues to defy logic, common sense, and international law.
Even by its usual standards, the Basmanny court outdid itself on May 6th by holding two hearings instead of one. The first hearing, as planned, concerned Nadiya Savchenko’s immunity as a PACE delegate. The purpose of the second hearing, announced the day before (so as to give the defense next to zero time to prepare for it), was to extend Nadiya’s detention. Nikolay Polozov, one of Nadiya’s attorneys, tweeted that the Russian authorities want to extend her detention as quickly as possible, in response to the upcoming Global #FreeSavchenko Day, planned for May 11, Nadiya’s birthday. Mark Feygin, another member of Nadiya’s defense team, says that the prosecution are “afraid and in a hurry.”
To start off the first hearing, the defense moved to remove Judge Karpov, who has never made a positive ruling in any of Savchenko’s hearings, and has been criticized by PACE for perceived biased treatment of the defendant. The motion was denied.
Following that, the defense moved to include the PACE documents that confirm Nadiya Savchenko’s immunity as a delegate in the case materials. Since the original document was drawn up in English (read the full document here), the court requested a translation. The translation made by the defense was not deemed acceptable by the court, and the motion to include the document in the case materials was denied, as was the motion to postpone the hearing so as to give the defense the time to procure a formal translation.
In the end, the court ruled that Nadiya Savchenko’s PACE delegate immunity does not constitute a reason to set her free, or even change her pre-trial restraint to house arrest. The main reason quoted is the fact that Nadiya was granted the immunity after the crimes she is being accused of had already been allegedly committed. However, according to PACE’s own interpretation, a delegate’s immunity applies to any crimes they may have committed before being granted the immunity.
By refusing to agree with this interpretation, the Russian courts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are choosing to interpret PACE provisions differently than PACE itself. According to Nikolay Polozov, “this is like, if the Russian football team refused to accept the UEFA rules.”
Following a short recess, the second hearing of the day started. This one was called by the prosecution, with the purpose of extending Nadiya Savchenko’s detention. Nikolay Polozov (defense attorney) tweeted that he expected this hearing to add another month to the detention term, because after that time, the total duration of Nadiya’s pre-trial detention would go over 12 months, and be outside the jurisdiction of the Basmanny district court. According to Polozov, extension of pre-trial detention terms over 12 months would have to be taken to the Moscow City Court.
During the hearing, the prosecution presented a brand new version of the events surrounding Nadiya Savchenko’s capture and kidnapping. Previously, they had claimed that Nadiya escaped from her captors–the insurgent battalion “Zarya”–and proceeded to illegally cross over the Russian border. Their latest version is even better. Allegedly, the kindhearted insurgents set Nadiya free, and she was so moved by their generosity that she covered the 75-km distance to the Russian border on foot… in the scope of 1.5 hours. Finally, we have an explanation for the astounding strength of Nadiya’s spirit and body – if the prosecution is to be believed, she is, in fact, superhuman!
But we must give credit where credit is due, and also tip our hats to the relentless people of the Investigative Committee, who, according to the case materials, had questioned a total of 108,000 people since the beginning of Nadiya Savchenko’s case. That makes for some 300 people per day, without any weekends or holidays. And if that weren’t impressive enough, we should point out that just two months ago, the claimed number of interrogations was only 19 thousand… which makes for an extra 89 thousand in the last two months alone, or 1500 people per day. That is some impressive work that the Investigative Committee’s KGB forefathers would be proud of.
At one point during the hearing, Nadiya complained of heart pain and asked for medical aid. Judge Mushnikova considered her request for five minutes or so, rather unperturbed, before finally agreeing to call an ambulance.
After Nadiya was seen to by the paramedics, the proceedings resumed. In a move that surprised no one, and in direct violation of the European Parliament’s resolution calling for Nadiya’s “immediate and unconditional release”, the court ruled that Nadiya’s detention will be extended until June 30, 2015.
In conclusion of today’s Kafkaesque proceedings, attorney Nikolay Polozov tweeted:
“A Verkhovna Rada deputy, PACE delegate, Hero of Ukraine, prisoner of war and political prisoner, Nadiya Savchenko remains a hostage.”