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Russian court to announce verdict for former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko

March 21, 1:34 UTC+3 DONETSK (Rostov Region)
The announcement of the verdict is expected to last two days, and it will become clear today whether it will be guilty or not guilty
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Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

©  Valery Matytsin / TASS

DONETSK (Rostov Region), March 21. /TASS/. The Donetsk City Court in the southern Russian Rostov Region will on Monday start announcing the verdict for former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, accused of involvement in the murder of Russian journalists.

The announcement of the verdict is expected to last two days, and it will become clear today whether it will be guilty or not guilty.

During oral arguments, prosecutors asked to find Savchenko guilty on all crimes charged. They said that during court proceedings, her involvement in the murder of Russian journalists, an attempt to kill civilians and illegal crossing of the border of the Russian Federation have been established reliably. The state prosecution requested 23 years in prison and a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,500) for Savchenko.

Savchenko does not admit her guilt but does not intend to appeal the verdict whatever it is. Savchenko and her lawyers said they hope that it will be possible to send the former Ukrainian pilot to Ukraine to serve her term there.

Lawyers told TASS that the defense and the accused herself do not doubt that the verdict will be guilty.

"We do not cherish illusions and are aware that the verdict will be guilty and that the punishment will be lengthy. But Nadezhda is not upset, she perceives the verdict with laughter," Mark Feygin told TASS.

Feygin said the defense proved that Savchenko is not guilty, and the only just verdict regarding her is not guilty.

Meanwhile, state prosecutors blame lawyers for provocative statements and a lck of objective analysis of the submitted evidence.

"The criminal case of Nadezhda Savchenko of course stands separate against the background of other cases. The reason is not the citizenship of the accused, but first of all unprecedented pressure upon the investigation and court, not only on the part of officials of Ukraine and their overseers, but also media," Pavel Filipchuk, who is the public prosecutor in the Savchenko case, said.

"A great amount of responsibility is borne also by lawyers who deliver provocative statements instead of participating in objective analysis of the submitted evidence," Filupchuk said. He said "various injections in media, separate case materials taken out of context and relevant interpretations and comments are on their conscience."

Savchenko is accused of involvement in the murder of two Russian journalists in the Lugansk Region, as well as illegal crossing of the border with Russia. The materials of her case were separated from the general case on Ukrainian servicemen committing genocide and using banned means and methods of war.

If found guilty, Savchenko faces up to 25 years in prison.

According to investigators, during combat operations near the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on June 17, 2014, Savchenko, who was an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, from the location of the Aidar battalion - a paramilitary group of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry - in the vicinity of the village of Metallist secretly adjusted artillery fire on a section of the Lugansk People’s Republic militia's roadblock with civilians, including three Russian journalists.

As a result, VGTRK journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin were killed.

The defense says the legal interests of its client in Russia are infringed upon, but Russian federal law enforcement structures deny that.

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