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Savchenko Visits Ukraine Areas Held By Separatists In Bid To Free Prisoners

Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko
Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko

Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko visited areas of eastern Ukraine held by Russia-backed separatists on February 24 to meet with Ukrainian prisoners there, irking many of her compatriots in Kyiv.

Savchenko, a former military navigator who was jailed in Russia for two years before her release last year, visited a prison in Makiivka. She said on Facebook that her goal is to help free Ukrainian prisoners.

Following her visit with six prisoners, she told reporters that her goal is to arrange an "all for all" exchange of prisoners held by both sides.

Savchenko was given a hero's welcome in Ukraine after being released from Russian prison, but she has since then become a controversial figure due to her criticism of the Ukrainian government and her calls for a dialogue with separatists to end the fighting that has killed more than 9,750 people since April 2014.

Following a meeting in December with separatist leaders in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Savchenko was pushed out of her parliamentary faction.

Oleksandr Tkachuk, spokesman for Ukraine's domestic security agency, the SBU, said on February 24 that the agency will look into Savchenko's trip, which he said is causing "bewilderment."

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Interfax

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