OSCE human rights chief raises concerns over Savchenko verdict, calling for release
WARSAW, 22 March 2016 ─ Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed concerns today over the conviction by a Russian court of Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian air-force pilot, for complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists in June 2014.
“Amidst serious disputes over the facts in Savchenko’s trial and the need to respect fair-trial rights in her high-profile case, I echo the OSCE Chairmanship’s call for her immediate release,” the ODIHR Director said. “Savchenko’s release would send a strong humanitarian message given her health problems, and would build confidence in the peace process aimed at resolving the two-year-old crisis in and around Ukraine.”
On 22 March 2016, a judge in a court in the southern Russian region of Rostov-on-Don found Savchenko guilty of involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists near Luhansk, Ukraine, as well as illegally entering Russia, and sentenced her to 22 years in prison. Savchenko, who is also a deputy in the Ukrainian Parliament and in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, was detained by the Russian authorities in July 2014.
“OSCE participating States have committed themselves to uphold internationally recognized standards for the administration of justice,” Director Link said. “It is regrettable that ODIHR has not had the opportunity to visit her in detention or to officially monitor her trial – despite our request. This verdict raises real concerns as to whether these standards have been met.”