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Published in Stream:
Day 745: March 3, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Savchenko Vows Dry Hunger Strike From Tomorrow After Judge Cuts Her Off During Final Speech
4 years
Ukrainian Journalist Varfolomeyeva Released from Captivity by Russian-Backed Militants in Prisoner Exchange

Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian prisoner of war on trial in Russia after being illegally transported from separatist captivity in Lugansk, has vowed to go on a "dry" hunger strike - that is to refuse fluids - from tomorrow after she was prevented from finishing her final speech to the court.

Savchenko has not eaten solid food for 77 days already, but has received glucose injections and, her lawyer Mark Feygin says, is drinking an "organic mixture."

Savchenko was addressing the court in the Russian border town of Donetsk, when she was told to stop. The judge announced that, despite there being over an hour of process time remaining, the trial would not resume again until March 9.

Defence lawyer Ilya Novikov:
Suddenly the judge has broken their own schedule and instead of Nadezhda's last word, they've announced a recess until March 9. Nadezhda has declared a dry hunger strike.
Mark Feygin said that he would try and talk Savchenko out of refusing water.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Nadezhda in jail, I will try to persuade her to abandon her hunger strike

According to Randall K. Packer, a professor of biology at George Washington University, an adult "in comfortable surroundings, in contrast, can survive for a week or more with no, or very limited, water intake."

But for Savchenko, having damaged her health through repeated, long fasts, sometimes without glucose, and living in Russian jail conditions that probably do not amount to "comfortable surroundings," she is likely taking a great risk in refusing water for the next five days. 

Savchenko had already begun her impassioned, final comments to the court yesterday:

Speaking from the cage in which defendants are traditionally kept in Russian courts, Savchenko vowed to begin a dry hunger strike if the Russian court sentence takes two weeks to issue her sentence -- she noted that it had already been decided -- and fails to extradite her to Ukraine.

Because the Russian court would not provide a Ukrainian translator, Savchenko gave her speech in Russian, laying out the facts of the case which had repeatedly been suppressed or even lied about by Russian authorities.

The Interpreter has also concluded that the two Russian state journalists killed at a Russian-backed separatist checkpoint were not wearing protective gear or following safety precautions when they were struck by a shell. No evidence has been provided for the claim that Savchenko served as a spotter for the Ukrainian army, as she was taken into custody before the shell hit.

As Savchenko recounted:

Now, regarding the debate. During this long and tedious six-month trial we learned that guilt was proven in the course of the judicial process. That guilt is of the Russian journalists [Savchenko is accused of involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists]. They are guilty of lying and of providing false, distorted information regarding events in Ukraine, the world, and in Russia. They are to blame for neglecting their own security. If they had worn body armour, they would have survived. If they had not hung around where they shouldn't have, they would have stayed alive.

Russian TV channels were also found guilty. Channels, their owners and their editors are guilty for sending their people - unprepared, unprotected - to their certain death, just for the sake of spreading pretty pictures and false information. They wanted to boost their ratings and made a quick buck. But they absolutely do not care about their journalists. They are the ones who are above all responsible for the deaths of Korneliuk and Voloshin [the two Russian journalists whose deaths Savchenko is accused of involvement in].

We watched here a video of Russia's Channel 5, in which a reporter said Ukrainian media were lying and Korneliuk and Voloshiin fact were wearing helmets and body armour. But even in this very courtroom it has been proven they had neither helmets nor body armour. We can arrive at that conclusion that Russian TV channels are telling lies.

Read the full text of Savchenko's speech at UA Today.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick