Hunger-striking Ukrainian pilot in 'satisfactory condition': lawyer

6th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A jailed female Ukrainian pilot, who this week rejected food and water to protest delays in her controversial murder trial in Russia, is in "satisfactory condition," her lawyer said Sunday.

Nadiya Savchenko, 34, is demanding she be repatriated to Ukraine after a judge in the southern Russian town of Donetsk on Thursday unexpectedly postponed her final address to court as her trial over the 2014 killing of two Russian journalists in east Ukraine nears an end.

"Nadezhda Savchenko is now in satisfactory condition," one of her lawyers, Nikolai Polozov, said on Facebook, using the Russian version of her name.

He said she was being constantly monitored and there was no need to force-feed her.

Savchenko has not been drinking water or eating since the trial was adjourned on Thursday.

Her supporters are concerned that by refusing to drink water she may damage her health irreparably or not live long enough to attend the next hearing set for Wednesday.

Refusing both food and water is known in Russia as a "dry hunger strike" and was a method of last resort for some Soviet dissidents under Communism.

Polozov said that Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova had informed Savchenko's sister Vera of her condition after her representatives visited her in a detention centre.

A group of Ukrainian doctors are waiting for permission to also visit her, he added.

Savchenko has fasted before to protest the accusations against her but has never before refused both food and water.

"She counts only on her pressure on the Kremlin," her sister Vera told AFP earlier this week. "She does not believe politicians."

Irena Lesnevskaya, the founder of Russia's REN TV channel, on Sunday appealed to President Vladimir Putin to let Savchenko go ahead of March 8 when Russia and Ukraine celebrate Women's Day, a public holiday.

"Do not humiliate Russia, its men, its officers who still know what honour is about," Lesnevskaya wrote on Facebook.

"And even if you consider the Ukrainian officer defending the sovereignty of her country an enemy, respect an enemy! I also consider you my ideological enemy but let me at least consider the president of my country a man!"

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined this week to comment on Savchenko's decision to refuse food and water, saying the issue was not on the Kremlin agenda.

The US State Department has reiterated its call for Savchenko to be released "immediately."


© 2016 AFP

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