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Savchenko Calls Off Hunger Strike

Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko
Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko

Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko, who Russia has imprisoned on murder charges, has stopped her hunger strike.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko wrote on Twitter on April 19 that Savchenko "had agreed" to stop the hunger strike after talking to her by phone.

Savchenko, 34, has refused to consume water and food since April 6, demanding her immediate release.

Earlier on April 19, Poroshenko said Kyiv and Moscow had agreed on a possible framework to free Savchenko.

Poroshenko said that "it seemed" he and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had agreed in a telephone call the day before on a formula that will allow Savchenko to be returned.

The comments came a day after a Ukrainian court sentenced two Russian citizens to 14 years in prison each on charges of fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Shortly after the sentencing of Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, the Kremlin said Poroshenko and Putin discussed by phone the "fate" of the two Russians and Savchenko.

Poroshenko said on April 19 that the sentencings open up "certain opportunities for using the exchange mechanism."

Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Russia last month for her alleged role in the deaths of two Russian journalists in Ukraine's east.

The two men, who pleaded not guilty, retracted video confessions made earlier in which they admitted they were active-duty Russian military personnel when they were captured in Ukraine's Luhansk region in May 2015. Both said the statements were made under duress.

Russia has said neither Yerofeyev nor Aleksandrov were employed by the military when they were captured by a volunteer Ukrainian militia.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has provided weapons, training, and personnel to support separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine. Independent observers, journalists, and official monitors, however, have gathered a substantial body of evidence to the contrary.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Interfax

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