Nobel winner Alexievich slams Russia’s ‘political’ trial of Ukrainian pilot
Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich, this year's Nobel Literature Prize winner, on Wednesday slammed Russia's "political trial" of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko and compared her to Joan of Arc.
Savchenko, a military helicopter pilot, faces up to 20 years in jail in Russia for the murder of two Russian television journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine last year in a trial that has caused outrage in Kiev and the West.
In Ukraine, Savchenko is feted as a national heroine and Western leaders and rights groups have called for her release.
She has denied any guilt at her high-profile trial in southern Russia, which continued Wednesday, and says Russia smuggled her across its border.
Alexievich — who won the Nobel prize in October for her verbatim accounts of World War II and the Chernobyl disaster — went to the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk to hand over a letter to Savchenko and three of her books.
Speaking to Ukraine’s acting ambassador in Belarus, Valery Dzhigun, Alexievich condemned Savchenko’s “political trial,” saying she hoped the Ukrainian officer would be released or handed back to Kiev in a prisoner swap.
“I am so impressed by Nadiya Savchenko. She’s a real soldier,” said Alexievich, who has fiercely criticised President Vladimir Putin’s rule and his intervention in Ukraine.
“She turned out to be a real Ukrainian Joan of Arc. Today, Nadezhda is a symbol of the Ukrainian people,” Alexievich said, using the Russian form of her name.
The Nobel prize ceremony will take place on December 10.