Interview with Nadiya Savchenko attorney Nikolai Polozov. #FreeSavchenko

By Irena Klyman,
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Nadiya Savchenko’s Attorney Nikolai Polozov states: The probability that Mark Feygin and I would be arrested is very high

Highlights from an interview with Nikolai Polozov:

The District Court of Donetsk–Rostov Region (Russian Federation) is threatening Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko’s lawyers Nikolai Polozov and Mark Feygin with arrest for disclosing, on social networks, details of the interrogation of the leader of the “LNR” [“Luhansk People’s Republic”] terrorists’ Igor Plotnitsky, and posting his photo from court.

It is likely that after the Savchenko verdict, a court will issue a special ruling on the basis of which it will be possible to initiate criminal proceedings against the lawyers, Nikolai Polozov said. If we are going to appeal [Savchenko’s case after a verdict], the case [against the lawyers] can be developed in parallel. But right now, Nadiya is against an appeal, she believes that the whole court is a farce, and does not intend to prolong this dubious pleasure. She has already outlined a program for her actions, and although we don’t agree with her on everything, by law we are obliged to obey the will of our client. So, most likely it will be a sequential process.

“Savchenko’s sentence is on the judge’s table, they just need to finish this damn show.”

Nikolai Polozov: "Sooner or later, Savchenko will be home. For Putin, having the PACE delegate in a Russian penal colony – it's too expensive. Photo: Maria Perfilieva / Faceboo

Nikolai Polozov: “Sooner or later, Savchenko will be home. For Putin, having the PACE delegate in a Russian penal colony – it’s too expensive. Photo: Maria Perfilieva / Faceboo

Most likely, this week or early next prosecution will finish presenting their evidence and the defense’s presentation of evidence will begin. We will question Nadiya’s sister Vira as a witness for the defense and try to provide the court with evidence of Nadiya Savchenko’s innocence. Although I’m in doubt that the court wants to accept it. After that, the closing summations of each side, Nadiya’s final words, and the court will go to verdict, which will most likely be announced in early December. They will charge her with 20-25 years, and we will try to return her home.

Nikolai Polozov: Sooner or later Savchenko will be home. For Putin, keeping the PACE delegate in a Russian penal colony is too expensive

–Do you believe that you will really be arrested?

We live in Putin’s Russia, the likelihood that this will happen is very high. We have put a lot of sticks into the wheels of Russian court, we did not let them carry out a beautiful court process in which they look quite tidy and save face. We provide publicity for all the dirty deeds that they are trying to put through this court, and of course, it causes the Russian authorities irritation. In fact, this persecution is not as a result of a single infringement, but for the totality of the actions that we have taken in the course of the preliminary investigation and during the trial. This is revenge for our diligent work on the defense of Nadiya Savchenko.

With regard to her health, Nadiya was a bit unwell last week, they wrote out antibiotics for her, but her health is not threatened. Psychologically, she is set up very strongly, I would say, extremely strongly. And she gives us extra strength.

Russian media made it look like Plotnitsky wasn’t questioned in Savchenko’s trial

He filed a motion to close the process in connection with the fact that supposedly there is a threat to his life and health. It’s clear that this is an absolutely far-fetched pretext. Donetsk Court is surrounded by a cordon, snipers are on duty on the rooftops, the court is full of special forces, and no threats, even hypothetical, have arisen for Plotnitsky. This is a deception so that his lies are not replicated for the general public. All major media pretended that the head of the unrecognized state was not questioned in Russian court. This is special forces operation by the authorities, which decided to thus cover their satellite [it’s proxy in Ukraine].

–How do you assess the probability of achieving Savchenko’s return to Ukraine?

Returning Savchenko to Ukraine depends on the decisions of the Kremlin. There is a legal mechanism by which the convicted person, if he is a citizen of another country, perhaps at the request of that State, can be sent to serve his sentence at home. I have no doubt that as soon as the decision is out, the Ministry of Justice will send a request to the Prosecutor General’s Office for the extradition of Savchenko. But ultimately the decision would be taken by Putin, and what he will decide is difficult for me to predict. Perhaps he will try to keep Savchenko as an additional lever to bargain for himself some additional preferences.

“But I am convinced that, sooner or later, Savchenko will end up in her homeland, since for Putin having a PACE delegate sitting in a Russian prison colony – it’s too expensive.”

We still hope that the international community, especially European countries, because Nadiya is a delegate of PACE, will provide due pressure on the Russian authorities to organize the return of Savchenko.

–Now there is a kind of rapprochement between Russia and the West in line with the joint struggle against Islamic terrorism. Could this external situation have an affect on Savchenko’s trial and on the human rights situation in Russia?

It’s unlikely to affect the human rights situation, because the West has long turned a blind eye: while the country goes through silent repressions, when dissidents are pointedly laid to waste, and when it comes also to open killings, by which I mean primarily the murder of Boris Nemtsov.

But Savchenko – this is a resource in the hands of Putin, a trump card, that he can implement in exchange for something, which is why I do not rule out that at some point he may exchange Savchenko.

Exchanging Nadiya for Yerofeyev and Alexandrov is in the area of political bargaining. Legally, there is no such form – an exchange. They can send them to their homeland to serve their sentence after being convicted in Ukraine, but it will look like an exchange. There are lots of options here.

I am convinced that they really are Russian soldiers and acted in eastern Ukraine on the direct instructions of the Ministry of Defense, but Yerofeyev and Alexandrov deny it now.

Savchenko’s value for Putin is disproportionately greater than the value of some of the Russian military. He throws them in packs at Donbas. Now the question is to throw them in batches to Syria. For him, human life is worth nothing, he thinks in other categories.

Nadiya Savchenko in court in early November saying to the camera: "Write the guys [Karpyuk and Klykh, fellow Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia]. A friend of my friend's, is my friend, right?"

Nadiya Savchenko in court in early November saying to the camera: “Write the guys [Karpyuk and Klykh, fellow Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia]. A friend of my friend’s, is my friend, right?”

Savchenko is held in Novocherkassk prison, which is located 30 km from Rostov and 130 km from Donetsk. Every day, she goes to the court and back, travelling about 250 km; it is quite tedious.

They created relatively tolerable conditions for her, by Russian standards. She is in solitary confinement, they watch over her carefully, she is allowed to use appliances – a refrigerator, a TV. They allow her to edit and translate her book into Russian. Her status as a people’s deputy of Ukraine and her status as a PACE delegate nonetheless gives her a privileged position compared with other prisoners. But a prison, especially an unlawful one, is still a cage.

“The fate of political prisoners depends on only one movement of Vladimir Putin’s eyebrow.”

For Putin, it’s much calmer if political prisoners are sitting [in prisons], no one is interested in them. The only way – is for the international community to continue to put pressure on the Kremlin, on Putin.

The West takes quite an ambivalent attitude to Putin. In my opinion, this is primarily due to the weakness of the Obama administration. If we compare the international community with a symphony orchestra, and if the conductor was, say, a conditional Reagan, Putin could not have come in, taken away the instruments and smashed the violin. The West is trying to flirt with Putin to solve their problems. In order to achieve meaningful results, Western countries have to have a strong consolidated position. Then, addressing Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian prisons can get the ball rolling.

Putin is trying to maneuver within the framework of mutual real politics; I think that mercantile interests may outweigh the values on which modern civilization is based – respect for human rights and freedoms.

Putin reminds one of a debtor, who is trying to get more re-crediting and is not paying the principal debt. He took Crimea, he overrides Crimea with Donbas, he covers over Donbas with Syria, but this cannot last forever, and eventually he will still end up a loser.

But Savchenko is the flagship. If we manage to achieve her return to her homeland, I think that she will be actively involved in the process of liberating her countrymen from Russian prisons. Using, first of all, political mechanisms, in this case the law only serves the political agreement. Ultimately, the fate of political prisoners depends on only one movement of Vladimir Putin’s eyebrow. The only way is to put continuous pressure on him and the Russian authorities.

Nadiya Savchenko in court.

Nadiya Savchenko in court.


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2 Responses to Interview with Nadiya Savchenko attorney Nikolai Polozov. #FreeSavchenko

  1. The collective west has a very weak leader indeed. If Obama was substituted by a president like Reagan, Nadiya Savchenko would have been out of Russian prison a long time ago but Barack Obama is a very weak leader actually he is no leader at all, he is affraid of his own shadow.

  2. Nadiya ‘Hope’ as your name suggests that you are living in ‘hope’ and good faith that ultimately truth will prevail and that you will be freed soon. I have been following your case right from the start and admire your strong and resolute courage of character and spirit. I am of the firm belief that ultimately the truth will set you free soon and you will be back amongst your family and friends on Ukrainian soil. Keep your courage high and don’t despair, God is on your side as are millions of Ukrainians not only in Ukraine but members of the Ukrainian Diaspora all around the world. I am of Ukrainian descent but live in Sydney, Australia since 1949 as my parents fled the Soviet persecution. Everything has an end and so has your incarceration; have faith in God and the power of positive thinking. Please accept my greetings and best wishes from Australia.

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