Ukrainian pilot on trial in Russia, Nadezhda Savchenko, says she was kidnapped
Published 29/09/2015 | 12:25
A Ukrainian officer charged with the deaths of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine has said she was kidnapped by Russians after being captured by separatist rebels.
Russian prosecutors claim Nadezhda Savchenko intentionally targeted journalists and civilians when Ukrainian forces attacked rebel positions in June 2014.
Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot who served in a volunteer battalion fighting alongside government troops against Russia-backed rebels, told the court she had been captured before the mortar attack on civilians and journalists.
After a week of captivity in the rebel-held Luhansk, Savchenko said she was handed over to unknown men with Russian accents who took her across the border.
The Ukrainian government has been campaigning for Savchenko's release, claiming the charges against her are false.
"I wasn't able to go out anywhere for a week. I was guarded by masked men," said Savchenko, who was dressed in a traditional Ukrainian embroidered blouse.
Savchenko said she was on a reconnaissance mission walking a few miles from where the mortar shells landed.
Russian prosecutors have denied that she was smuggled across the border. Instead, they insist that Savchenko escaped captivity in Luhansk and sneaked into Russia in order to carry out an act of terror.
Since her detention, Savchenko was elected into Ukrainian parliament and voted as a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of Europe.