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Jailed Ukrainian Lawmaker Savchenko Resumes Hunger Strike

Nadia Savchenko attends a court hearing in Kyiv on March 29
Nadia Savchenko attends a court hearing in Kyiv on March 29

Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko, who is in jail pending trial on charges of plotting a terrorist attack on parliament with grenades and automatic weapons, has resumed a hunger strike.

Savchenko's lawyer Oleh Solovey said on April 16 that his client had to stop the hunger strike after she fainted during a lie-detector test on April 13.

According to Solovey, Savchenko agreed to stop the hunger strike for three days in order to be able to complete the polygraph. He said she feels well now and can submit to the test on April 17.

Savchenko announced the hunger strike on March 23 as a Kyiv court placed her under two-month pretrial arrest.

One day earlier, fellow lawmakers voted to strip her of her immunity from prosecution and authorized her arrest.

Savchenko and Volodymyr Ruban are accused of plotting to overthrow the government, carry out a "large-scale terrorist attack" in central Kyiv, and kill senior officials.

Ruban was detained earlier in March while crossing into government-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, allegedly with large amounts of weapons and ammunition hidden in a shipment of furniture.

Savchenko maintains her innocence and says her arrest was illegal.

Savchenko says she was abducted in 2014 in the eastern Ukrainian area known as the Donbas, where a war that has now killed more than 10,300 had erupted that April between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists.

She spent two years in prison in Russia, defying the Kremlin with a series of hunger strikes, and returned to a hero's welcome in Kyiv when she was released as part of a prisoner swap in May 2016.

Elected to parliament on an opposition party ticket while still held in Russia, Savchenko became a vehement critic of President Petro Poroshenko's government after her return.

She has drawn fire from several political camps, facing criticism for holding talks with the separatists without government consent and for comments nationalists said indicated she advocated accepting Moscow's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

With reporting by
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