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EU, U.S. Call On Russia To Release Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko

  • RFE/RL

The European Union and the United States have issued fresh calls on Russia to release hunger-striking Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko.

The statements came after a Moscow court upheld a ruling extending the pretrial detention period for Savchenko, who has been on a hunger strike for 76 days, until May 13.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Maja Kocijancic, condemned the decision in a February 26 statement and said that "Russia bears a responsibility for [Savchenko's] very fragile health."

She called for Savchenko's urgent release "on humantarian grounds" and said it would be in line with commitments to release detainees under a peace deal for the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

In a statement on February 25, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also cited those commitments and said the United States "deplores [Savchenko's] ill-treatment and is deeply oconcerned about her deteriorating health."

Savchenko says she was captured by the rebels in June and illegally taken to Russia, which has charged her with involvement in a mortar attack that killed two Russian journalists.

Savchenko denies the charges and says Russia has no right to hold or prosecute her.

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