: Nadiya Savchenko comes back home to Ukraine (live updates)
Politics15:59 May. 25, 2016
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Nadiya Savchenko comes back home to Ukraine (live updates)

Ukrainian pilot and MP released and swapped for Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine

On May 25, Ukrainian pilot-turned-MP Nadiya Savchenko, who was illegally held in Russia for almost two years, was released and exchanged for the two Russian Special Forces servicemen captured in eastern Ukraine last year. 

Read also Nadiya Savchenko Detention: Key facts and dates (Infographic)

On March 22, Nadiya Savchenko was sentenced by a Russian court to spend 22 years in prison for being involved in the deaths of two Russian journalists in the Donbas warzone in 2014 and for illegally crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border. Savchenko denied the charges. Human rights organizations, the OSCE, some UN Security Council members and the European Parliament have all called for her release.

19:22  E.U. welcomes Savchenko's return home and wishes her prompt recovery

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini wishes Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko a speedy recovery and urges all parties to fulfill their commitments to releasing all detainees and hostages associated with the conflict in Donbas.

The corresponding statement was published on Wednesday, May 25.

"Finally, Nadiya Savchenko is free and back in her country. The Ukrainian pilot was released today from a Russian prison - in exchange for the release of two Russian prisoners, in an overdue gesture of human compassion. We wish her a prompt recovery after her long imprisonment". 

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Federica Mogherini (AP Photo)

18:44 Savchenko's release is only the beginning – Poroshenko

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said that the release Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko is only the beginning of the process. He stated this during a joint press conference with Savchenko, on May 25, in Kyiv.

"This is just the beginning, because we are waiting for Soloshenko, Afanasyev, Sentsov, Kolchenko to return home and many other Ukrainians, who are now held hostage in Russia as well as in the militant-held occupied territories (in eastern Ukraine). I am very pleased that now Nadiya could join this struggle," the Ukrainian leader said.

Read also People from around the world send postcards to support Ukrainians imprisoned in Russia

Ukraine's Ambassador-at-Large Dmytro Kuleba Dmytro Kuleba tweeted"Let's keep working together to free other Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia and occupied Crimea".

At least 30 Ukrainians are jailed in Russia and occupied Crimea on politically motivated grounds. Here are their names:  

17:05 'I tell Russians not to be afraid'- Savchenko speaks at Presidential administration

Nadiya Savchenko made a speech at the Presidential administration on May 25, after she came back to Ukraine from Russia. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said that 'Nadiya became a symbol, a symbol of pride and invincibility'. 

Nadiya Savchenko: "I thank my mother for waiting for me, my sister for fighting for me, the people of Ukraine and the whole world. I thank all the guys that stayed alive and those that died for our Ukraine, I'm sorry that I am still alive but I am ready to die for Ukraine at any moment. I'm not going to talk badly about people, I don't want to share my hate, my anger, I hope that eventually I will only have wisdom, actually wisdom will come from those feelings. I don't want people to want war, I want people to want peace, unfortunately peace has to come out of war. I want to say 'hi' to Russians and tell them there's nothing to be afraid of, you have to get up from your knees, I understand it's not the easiest country to do that in".

At the end of the press-conferecne, Savchenko received the Order of Hero from Ukraine's President. 

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Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko is surrounded by media upon her arrival at Kyiv Boryspil Airport on May 25, 2016 in Boryspil, Ukraine (Getty Images)

16:37 Kremlin grants pardon to Nadiya Savchenko

The Kremlin issued"'s decree granting a pardon to Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadiya Savchenko.

The decree is posted on the Russian president's official website.

The decree reads: "Convicted Nadiya Savchenko, born May 11, 1981 in Kyiv, is to be granted a pardon and freed from further serving her sentence in prison",the document says. 608xX

16:15 PACE President welcomes release of Nadiya Savchenko

PACE President Pedro Agramunt welcomes the release of the Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko from the Russian prison. Agramunt also says Savchenko is invited to attend the next session of the organisation.

"I commend both Russia and Ukraine for making this possible, and I look forward to welcoming her in Strasbourg soon – perhaps even at the next session in June, if her health permits," reads Agramunt's statement published on the official website of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe. Full story 

15:56 Nadiya Savchenko on her way to the Ukrainian President Administration

Savchenko's sister Vira tweets: "The politicains are going by the Ukrainian President's car to the President Administration". 

 

15:34 Nadiya Savchenko makes her first statement once she has arrived in Ukraine 

Savchenko: "I want to thank everyone who fought for me, for everyone, for everyone who is in prison to be free. I want to thank those who wished me well - I'm alive because of you! I also want to thank those who wished me ill - to spite you." 

15:20 Nadiya Savchenko's flight has landed

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko confirmed via Twitter. Poroshenko's address live at 15:15 Kyiv local time. 

Watch the RFL/RE live stream of Savchenko's arrival in Ukraine 

  

14:49 Nadiya Savchenko lawyer Mark Feygin tweets"Two years ago I told Ukrainians that I will do everything to release Savchenko, I kept the promise. She is on her way home, to Ukraine". 

14:05 Convicted Russian Special Forces Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeyev left Ukraine. This was reported by Valentin Rybin, Aleksandrov's lawyer in his interview with the Ukrainian TV channel "112". 

"At this stage I can only confirm the information that my client Aleksandr Aleksandrov and my colleague's client Yevgeniy Yerofeyev left the territory of Ukraine", Rybin said and added that he could not confirm whether they were exchanged for Nadiya Savchenko.

According to Rybin, this is "most likely to be the result of (the Ukrainian) President's pardon" for the Russian soldiers. When asked if the pardon was officially signed, Rybin said"Yes, otherwise Russian citizens would not be able leave Ukraine". 

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Russian special forces servicemen Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeyev are sentenced to 14 years behind bars and asset seizure (UNIAN Photo)

13:31 Savchenko on plane bound for Ukraine from Russia

The plane will land in Kyiv, at the Boryspil international airport at no later than 14.45 (Kyiv time), on May 25.

This was reported by Ukraine's MP Ihor Lutsenko on Facebook.

At 15.15 (Kyiv time) President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will make a statement for media. Full story  

12:37 Ukrainian President's plane lands in Russia Rostov to bring Savchenko home

The Ukrainian President's plane has landed in Russia's Rostov city to take home Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was illegally convicted and jailed in Russia. She is expected to be swapped for two Russian special forces servicemen, captured and convicted in Ukraine. This is reported by the Ukrainian news outlet UNIAN with a reference to their source in Russia.

"The plane has arrived in Rostov tonight. Savchenko should be swapped (for Russian soldiers) today, on May 25", UNIAN quotes a source as saying.

The Kremlin did not have information regarding Savchenko-Russian-soldiers exchange. Full story  

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The mural featuring the image of Nadiya Savchenko (UNIAN Photo)

11:50 Savchenko to be swapped today for Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko sends his plane to Russia's Rostov to bring Nadiya Savchenko back home, to Ukraine. Two Russian soldiers, captured and convicted in Ukraine, are reportedly aboard the Presidential airplane.

They are expected to be exchanged today, on May 25, for Ukrainian pilot-turned-MP, who was illegally held in Russia for almost two years. The swap is going to take place at the Rostov airport. 

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"Savchenko has already arrived in Rostov, accompanied by Russian law enforcment officers. According to the bilateral agreement, Ukrainian authorities are going to release Russian soldiers there in exchange for Savchenko", the Ukrainian news outlet Interfax quotes its sources.

Savchenko's lawyers say, they don't have any information about the possible swap. "I don't know anything about it. Neither does my colleague Mark Feygin. I think, you should ask the government officials", Nikolay Polozov says in an interview with Interfax.

Russian officials have also failed to either confirm or disprove the exchange.

"I don't have any information", Russian President's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says.

STORY: When Savchenko's guilty verdict was announced on May 22, Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that Ukraine was ready to transfer the soldiers to Russia in return for the release of Nadiya Savchenko.

On April 24, Poroshenko said that he agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on terms of Savchenko's release. On April 29, Savchenko filled in all the necessary documents for extradition.

"We will do everything possible for Nadia to return home as soon as possible. I'll do everything to bring her back this month," on May 23 Poroshenko told journalists in Turkey answering a question about a possible swap of Savchenko for two Russian servicemen convicted in Ukraine.

On March 22, Nadiya Savchenko was sentenced by a Russian court to spend 22 years in prison for being involved in the deaths of two Russian journalists in the Donbas warzone in 2014 and for illegally crossing the Ukrainian-Russian border. Savchenko denied the charges. Human rights organizations, the OSCE, some UN Security Council members and the European Parliament have all called for her release.

Russian special forces servicemen Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeniy Yerofeyev were sentenced to 14 years behind bars and asset seizure.

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