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Crimean Tatar Leader Urges Savchenko To Stop Hunger Strike

  • RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

KYIV -- Veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev has called on Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko to end her hunger strike in a Russian jail.

Addressing Savchenko in an interview with the Gordon news site on February 24, Dzhemilev predicted her hunger strike would not prompt Russian authorities to release her.

"Nadia, daughter, there is no sense in continuing the hunger strike. Russia is not a country where humane principles exist," he said.

Dzhemilev, 71, is a former Soviet dissident who served six sentences in prison camps from 1966 to 1986.

He was force-fed during a 303-day hunger strike, the longest in the history of the Soviet human rights movement.

Dzhemilev, now a Ukrainian lawmaker, said Nobel Peace Prize winning rights defender Andrei Sakharov persuaded him to end his hunger strike.

Savchenko was captured by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine last year and transported to Russia, where she faces charges of involvement in the death of two journalists killed in the conflict between the rebels and government forces.

Savchenko, who denies guilt and says Russia has no right to prosecute her, started a hunger strike on December 13 said she will not stop unless she is released.

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