The trial of Nadia Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot whose jailing in Russia has been condemned by Kyiv and the West, is drawing to a close. Savchenko, 34, is charged with complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists who died in shelling in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. She denies guilt and says she was seized in Ukraine and illegally transported to Russia.
Savchenko had been expected to make her final statement March 3, but the trial was abruptly adjourned until March 9 after bitter exchanges in the courtroom. The prepared text, which the hunger-striking Savchenko wrote out by hand, was posted on her Facebook page after the hearing. Here is RFE/RL’s English translation.
I accept neither guilt, nor the verdict, nor the Russian court. In the case of a guilty verdict there will be no appeal. I want the whole democratic civilized world to realize that Russia is a third-world country, with a totalitarian regime and a petty tyrant-dictator, where human rights and international law are spat upon.
It is an absurd situation when those who abduct people subject them to torture then act as if they have a right to judge them! How can one talk about a fair trial? In Russia, there are no trials or investigations -- only a farce played out by Kremlin puppets. And I find it superfluous to waste time in my life participating in it!
And so there will be no appeal, but this is what will happen: After the verdict I will continue my hunger strike for 10 more days, until the verdict comes into force -- and this is regardless of the translation [of the verdict] into Ukrainian, because they can drag that out for a long time, too. In 10 days I will begin a dry hunger strike [refusing both food and water], and then Russia will have no more than 10 days to return me to Ukraine, where they abducted me! And I don’t care how they justify it! I have heard that [Ukrainian President] Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko is quite adept at diplomacy. I hope his diplomatic skills will suffice to reach agreement in Russia with a certain idiot -- after all, he promised my mother that I would be home in time for the May holidays of 2015.
And while they are bargaining over me, my life will be draining away and Russia will return me to Ukraine in any case -- it will return me, dead or alive!
Throughout these 10 days, day and night, my sister will be standing at the jail gates, and she will wait and see whether they release me or not. And if you put her in jail, my mother will come and take her place. She is 77, will you put her in jail, too? In that case my friend will take her place, and after her -- Ukrainian after Ukrainian! And remember -- you can’t shove everybody in here. And while my compatriots are standing there, simple, honest, and decent Russians living in nearby homes will bring them hot tea, sandwiches, and warm blankets, because each one of them understands that tomorrow their child could be in my place, in this prison of all peoples called Russia!
That is how Maidans (revolutions) start! Do you need that?! You fear it like the plague! So it is better for the Kremlin to return me to Ukraine as soon as possible, and alive!
And those in the world with democratic values ought to learn their history lessons before it's too late and remember that there was a time when Europe was tolerant toward Hitler, and America wasn’t decisive enough, and this led to World War II. Putin is a tyrant with imperial manners and a Napoleon and Hitler complex put together. The [Russian] bear doesn’t understand human language, he understands only the language of force. Therefore, unless we become more decisive and determine the right priorities on time, we will soon have World War III.
And I, as a politician now, won’t shake Russia's hand in the political arena. It is not right to extend a hand to someone who kept you in handcuffs and your people in chains. But every time I make a political decision, I will always think how it would affect ordinary people, both in Ukraine and Russia. Because in Russia, in spite of everything, there are many honest, kind, and decent people.
Translated by Anna Shamanska