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Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian military pilot and parliamentarian Nadiya Savchenko, unlawfully detained for a year since her seizure by Russian-backed militias and subsequent illegal rendition to Russia.
The brutality of Savchenko’s case, including ‘involuntary psychiatric examinations and treatment’ is laid bare in a highly critical resolution adopted by MEPs in Strasbourg.
The resolution also highlights Russia’s deliberate disregard for its international commitments, with specific reference to the fact that Savchenko, as a parliamentarian and member of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has diplomatic status on the territory of another Council of Europe member state.
MEPs emphasised in the resolution their view that “Russia has no legal basis or jurisdiction to take any action against Nadiya Savchenko, such as detention, investigation or bringing charges against her.”
The resolution additionally states that the European Parliament considers Savchenko’s capture and detention to constitute a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and suggests that those responsible could face international sanctions and legal proceedings.
The text goes on to call also for the release of all other Ukrainian citizens illegally held in Russia including Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov.
In a debate ahead of th vote on the resolution, MEPs expressed dismay at Savchenko’s ongoing detention.
Lithuanian MEP Petras Auštrevičius called the detention of Nadiya Savchenko “unlawful and inhumane”, adding that “it is appalling that President Putin chooses to keep Nadiya Savchenko detained as his personal prisoner.
“It is not that we expect to get any kind of reply; what we expect is for Russia to act in a civilised and 21st century European manner,” he said.
British MEP Alyn Smith told the parliament: “The situation of Ms Savchenko is outrageous and, crucially, entirely within the control of the Russian authorities.
“She is also emblematic and it is important to remember that she is not alone; she is not the only illegally held Ukrainian national within Russia.”
Marju Lauristin, an MEP from Estonia, said that “Russia must respect peace and security and human rights in order to be recognised as a respected member of the international community.
“The unconditional release of Nadiya Savchenko would be a step in this direction but hopefully there will also be other steps.”