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Ukraine prosecutor submits request for Savchenko arrest on terrorism charges

Ukraine prosecutor submits request for Savchenko arrest on terrorism charges

16 March 2018

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko submitted
to parliament on March 15 a request for the removal of political immunity,
detention and arrest of former Russian political prisoner Nadiya Savchenko on
criminal charges related to an alleged terrorist plot to overthrow the
Ukrainian government. Though the 174-page text was not made public, Savchenko
is likely to be implicated in an alleged Russian-backed conspiracy to
destabilize the Ukrainian government that involves Volodymyr Ruban, a hostage
negotiator who was arrested last week also on terrorism charges. “The
investigation has undeniable evidence that Nadiya Savchenko personally planned,
recruited and gave orders on how to conduct a terrorist act within the walls of
parliament, destroying two loges with grenades,” Lutsenko said from the
tribune. At the same session, the parliamentary committee on national security
voted to exclude her.

 

In response to the accusations against her, Savchenko
merely bolstered the credibility of the terrorism accusations against her by
calling for a military overthrow of the “criminal Poroshenko government.”
“There are a lot of military who hear me now and agree that a military revolt
in Ukraine is a rather expected and, certainly, a rather appropriate event,”
she told reporters after being questioned by officers of the Security Service
of Ukraine (SBU). Her behavior was equally erratic in the parliamentary session
hall, where Savchenko allegedly brought with her three grenades and a gun in a
handbag, according to several MPs cited by the pravda.com.ua news site.
Security guards informed the parliamentary speaker of her possession of these
weapons but they didn’t have the authority to confiscate them, the report said.
She was soon escorted out of the session hall by several MPs who calmly
approached her. Savchenko’s spokeswoman dismissed these claims as “fantasies.”

 

Zenon Zawada: Regardless
of whether she is found guilty of the charges against her, these events mark
the end of the political career of Nadia Savchenko, the Ukrainian soldier
captured by separatist fighters who gained worldwide notoriety and support for
her fierce defiance of her imprisonment in Russia. After nearly two years under
capture, she was released to Ukraine in May 2016, only to launch a scandalous
career as a member of parliament that she was unprepared for, lacking the
necessary skills. She took inconsistent positions on political matters and
adopted outrageous positions that included sympathy for the Donbas separatists
and vicious criticisms and insults of Ukraine’s politicians, including the
president, hinting at his assassination.

 

Though Savchenko has lost any remaining credibility
with the public, the Poroshenko administration is sure to use her as a convenient
prop for the mass media in the presidential election campaign. In dragging out
the investigations and prosecution of this terrorist conspiracy before the
media, it will intend to rally the public around President Poroshenko, who will
be depicted as the single reliable source of stability and resistance against
Russia ahead of the March presidential elections. The government is sure to
highlight Savchenko’s membership in the Fatherland party led by Yulia
Tymoshenko, who leads Poroshenko in the election polls so far. The Fatherland
party excluded Savchenko from its parliamentary faction in December 2016, but
that may not have been enough to distance itself from her.

 

While government claims of a terrorist conspiracy
plot would normally draw heightened concerned from the public, the Poroshenko
administration’s accusations that surfaced last week – arresting and charging
Ruban – hasn’t produced much of a public response or support. The Poroshenko
administration has also discredited itself to a large degree with the public,
with its many scandals and false claims, to the extent that the public has
become immune to its claims of terrorist threats and actors. So while
Poroshenko might score votes among an increasingly fearful electorate, he will
not be regaining his credibility from prosecuting this labyrinthine criminal
plot.

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