Ukraine in­sur­gents re­lease 2 women thanks to Savchenko

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ukraine’s pro-Moscow in­sur­gents yesterday re­leased two women they had held cap­tive thanks to the in­ter­ven­tion of Nadya Savchenko-a Kiev-born fe­male com­bat pi­lot who spent nearly two years in a Rus­sian jail. The free­ing of the women-a judge and a jour­nal­ist-came af­ter Savchenko, now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment, held a private meet­ing with the heads of the sep­a­ratist re­gions of Lu­gansk and Donetsk ear­lier this month.

Savchenko has fer­vently taken up the cause of win­ning back the free­dom of some 110 peo­ple be­lieved to still be held by the mili­tias in their in­dus­trial en­clave in the south­east of Ukraine. But her trip to the war zone cre­ated con­tro­versy in Kiev be­cause it was not au­tho­rized by Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko. The Ukrainian leader re­fuses to have for­mal con­tacts with the re­bel­lion’s com­man­ders be­cause they lack le­git­i­macy in his eyes. An AFP correspondent saw two women-re­gional judge Anzhe­lika Pres­nyakova and jour­nal­ist Olga Svo­rak-handed over to a Ukrainian en­voy who came to the rebels’ de facto cap­i­tal of Donetsk. It was not im­me­di­ately clear how long they had been held cap­tive or un­der what cir­cum­stances they were cap­tured.

Re­fus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate

They were taken back to Ukrainian-held ter­ri­tory by Volodymyr Ruban, the head of a non-govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion in­volved in pris­oner swaps. Ruban told re­porters that Savchenko’s visit to the sep­a­ratist re­gion “helped ease the pris­on­ers’ re­lease”. But her trip has been con­demned by some Ukrainian of­fi­cials be­cause it con­tra­dicted Kiev’s line of re­fus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with the in­sur­gents but com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them through West­ern me­di­a­tors.

The 35-year-old Savchenko ini­tially be­came a sym­bol of Ukraine’s re­sis­tance to what Kiev con­sid­ers Rus­sia’s oc­cu­pa­tion of the east. Poroshenko and his West­ern al­lies view the sep­a­ratists as Rus­sian prox­ies who have been fight­ing a 31-month war that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives to desta­bilise the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment and keep it de­pen­dent on the Krem­lin’s whims. Moscow de­nies in­ter­fer­ing in the con­flict but in­ter­na­tional mon­i­tors have seen tanks and other heavy mil­i­tary equip­ment en­ter the Ukrainian war zone from Rus­sia through­out the war.

Yet Savchenko’s po­lit­i­cal star has fallen since her re­lease from Rus­sia in May. She had been sen­tenced for al­leged com­plic­ity in the mur­der of two Rus­sian state tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists in the war zone in June 2014 — a charge she de­nied and which led her to hold a se­ries of hunger strikes. Savchenko has now taken on views that forced her to leave the pop­ulist po­lit­i­cal party of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yu­lia Ti­moshenko that she orig­i­nally headed. — AFP

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