WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are leading the Senate in recognizing the plight of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014. The senators have authored S. Res. 52, which expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people while condemning the Government of Russia for its actions and calling for the immediate release of Ms. Saychecko, who is now six weeks into a hunger strike.
“The Russian government’s lack of respect for international law and human rights could fill volumes,” Senator Wicker said. “Russian authorities have no justification to continue holding Ms. Savchenko. I urge the Administration to use every tool available to assist in securing her immediate release.”
“Russia’s blatant disregard for the rule of law and their failure to abide by their international commitments continues to threaten Ukraine and its people. We are deeply concerned for the health and wellbeing of Ms. Saychenko, a Ukrainian hero,” said Senator Cardin. “The United States will not stand idly by while she and other illegally imprisoned Ukrainians are denied access to due process, as well as urgently needed medical care.”
On June 18, 2014, Nadiya Savchenko, Ukraine’s first-ever female fighter pilot and an Iraqi war veteran, was captured by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine while carrying out her duty to defend her country. Eventually, she was transported to Russia, illegally detained under unsubstantiated charges, subjected to numerous interrogations by Russian authorities and denied access to her counsel. These actions are a clear violation of her human rights and international standards.
Full text of S. Res. 52:
A Resolution calling for the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was captured by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine and has been held illegally in a Russian prison since July 2014.
Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is the first-ever female fighter pilot in Ukraine’s Armed Forces and is an Iraqi war veteran;
Whereas, in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Nadiya Savchenko volunteered her services to the Ukrainian Aidar battalion;
Whereas Nadiya Savchenko was elected in absentia from the Batkivshchyna Party to Ukraine’s Parliament in October 2014, and appointed to the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as a representative from Ukraine;
Whereas, as a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko was conducting operations in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian forces in the summer of 2014 when she was captured and taken into captivity;
Whereas, during her mission in Eastern Ukraine, she was captured by the Donbas People’s Militia, detained on Ukrainian territory, deprived of rights to due process, and illegally transferred to the Russian Federation to stand trial on unsubstantiated charges of terrorism;
Whereas, since July 2014, Nadiya Savchenko has endured involuntary psychiatric evaluations and solitary confinement;
Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is currently entering her sixth week of a hunger strike as a symbol of her protest;
Whereas Nadiya Savchenko is denied access to urgently needed medical attention and access to legal counsel;
Whereas the Minsk Protocol of September 2014, signed by Ukraine and the Russian Federation, calls for the “immediate release of all hostages and illegally held persons”;
Whereas appeals have been made to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Red Cross to secure Nadiya Savchenko’s release;
Whereas the international community, including representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and of the United States, have urged her immediate release;
Whereas, on January 26, 2015, the opening day of the Parliamentary Assembly, the global community embarks on a public campaign to bring attention to the plight of Nadiya Savchenko and demand her immediate release; and
Whereas the Government and people of the United States express concern about the deteriorating health of detained pilot Nadiya Savchenko and her continued illegal imprisonment: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) condemns the Government of the Russian Federation for its illegal imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko;
(2) calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to immediately release Nadiya Savchenko;
(3) calls on the United States, its European allies, and the international community to aggressively support efforts to release Nadiya Savchenko and other illegally detained persons; and
(4) expresses solidarity with the Ukrainian people.