34-year-old and her legal team say they knew verdict was a foregone conclusion
Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko has been sentenced to 22 years in prison by a Russian court. Judges found her guilty on charges of complicity in the deaths of two Russian journalists and of crossing the Russian border illegally.
For the duration of her case her legal team have said the charges are fabricated and a guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion. They expect to fight for her release through diplomatic channels. Many analysts suggest Savchenko could be released by means of a prisoner exchange between Kyiv and Moscow.
The 34-year-old's case dates back to June 17 2014. That's the day she was abducted by Kremlin-backed separatist forces and forcibly taken across the border to Russia. This footage was shot just one week later. It shows the first official interrogation of Savchenko on Russian territory.
Nadiya recounts the moment when she was captured: "I didn't see a checkpoint. Just some blown up equipment at first. Then I saw the place where the ambush had taken place…they threw a sack over me. They probably took me through a checkpoint. But I didn't see anything."
Savchenko's lawyers believe this meeting was when the false case against their client began to take shape. The Ukrainian pilot has always maintained she was already detained when the two Russian journalists were killed.
Savchenko was later take to Moscow, where she was held in pre-trial detention for more than a year. In that time she was appointed to Ukraine's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. That move, in theory, granted her immunity from prosecution and should have led to her release.
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In August 2015, it was decided the pilot's case would be heard in Russia's Rostov region, not in Moscow. Savchenko's lawyers say the choice of a remote location was an attempt by the Kremlin to deter observers and journalists from court hearings.
One month later – proceedings began. Savchenko set the tone for all her future court appearances; from her glass enclosure, she denounced the trial as a sham and accused Russia of being hypocritical and two-faced.
After that first hearing, Russia extended her arrest a number of times. In response the 34-year-old carried out several hunger strikes, including most recently a ‘dry' hunger strike when she even refused water.
All the while, international pressure on Russia to release Savchenko has grown almost daily. Her plight has been highlighted by rallies and protests across Europe and North America, with E.U. and U.S. officials leading calls for her to be freed.