Russia court nixes bid to move Ukraine pilot trial to Moscow
A Russian court on Friday turned down an appeal to shift the high-profile trial of a Ukrainian female helicopter pilot from southern Russia to Moscow, her lawyer said.
Nadiya Savchenko, 34, went on trial last month in a provincial court close to the Ukrainian border for her alleged involvement in the killing of two Russian journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine last year.
Savchenko, whose detention has become a cause celebre in her conflict-wracked homeland, insists she is not guilty and was kidnapped and smuggled illegally across the border into Russia.
The court rejected claims that the authorities violated legal procedures when they opted to try Savchenko outside Moscow, in the border town of Donetsk close to a conflict zone, in an apparent bid to shield the hearings from the public eye.
“The court refused our demand to move the trial,” lawyer Ilya Novikov told AFP, adding that the trial should start hearing evidence “next week or the week after that”.
Savchenko, who in October was elected to Ukraine’s parliament in absentia, has spent over a year in custody in Russia and protested her detention by going on hunger strike for more than 80 days.
She was one of the first Ukrainian women to train as an air force pilot and served in Iraq for six months.
In a separate trial in a nearby city, Russian prosecutors on Wednesday asked for a 23-year term for Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov over alleged terror offences committed in his native Crimea region after it was seized by Russia last year.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to fight a separatist conflict in east Ukraine, although Moscow denies the claims.