A group of activists in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on Tuesday staged a protest in front of the Russian embassy demanding the release of Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, who is currently jailed in Russia.
About two dozen police officers silently watched the protesters who had brought with them a poster reading “For Your and Our Freedom”.
Savchenko, who says she was seized in eastern Ukraine in June 2014 while fighting with a volunteer battalion against Russia-backed separatists and taken to Russia illegally, is now on trial in the Rostov region, accused of acting as a spotter who called in coordinates for a mortar attack that killed two Russian journalists.
Savchenko declared a hunger strike, refusing even liquids, on March 3 after the judge adjourned the trial for a week without allowing her to give her final statement. Prosecutors have asked for Savchenko to be found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The case has elicited a broad international response, with demonstrations in support of the Ukrainian pilot held in Ukraine and other countries.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on March 8 urged Russia to “make the right choice”, withdraw all the charges against Savchenko and immediately release her. Earlier, the European Union also called on Moscow to release the Ukrainian.
Among the activists who participated in the Yerevan protest was also filmmaker Tigran Khzmalian, who described Savchenko as a “brave woman” who is “being tried in disgraceful conditions and on absurd charges in Russia.”
“I think that participants in national-liberation struggles in any country must realize the importance of solidarity [with Savchenko],” Khzmalian said.
Union of Informed Citizens NGO representative Daniel Ionnisian called Savchenko a hostage of Russia. “This [Savchenko’s] is an unlawful trial that is more like a vendetta,” the activist said.
The Russian embassy did not respond to the protest.