Hunger-striking Ukrainian pilot 'feeling much better'

2016-03-14 21:00
Ukranian protesters hold up a placard reading “Free Nadiya Savchenko” as they stand next to a burned Russian flag in Kiev. (Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

Ukranian protesters hold up a placard reading “Free Nadiya Savchenko” as they stand next to a burned Russian flag in Kiev. (Sergei Supinsky, AFP)

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Moscow - Hunger-striking Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, on trial in Russia over the murder of two journalists, is feeling "a lot better" since she resumed drinking water, her lawyer said after visiting her in detention.

Savchenko began taking fluids again on Thursday after refusing both food and water for around a week in protest at delays in her controversial trial that has drawn criticism from Kiev and the West.

"I visited her today (Monday) and she is feeling a lot better than before," lawyer Nikolai Polozov told AFP. "She is drinking water and taking vitamins."

A court in southern Russia is set to deliver its verdict in the case on March 21 and 22, with prosecutors calling for 23 years in jail for the 34-year-old combat pilot.

Savchenko denies charges of being involved in the June 2014 killing of two Russian state television journalists in shelling in separatist east Ukraine. She says she was abducted by Russian security agents before the attack took place and smuggled into Russia.

Savchenko's decision to drink water again came after she received a hoax letter from a Russian celebrity prankster claiming to be from Ukraine's president and asking her to end her action.

Savchenko's lawyer denied that it was the letter that prompted her decision, insisting it was due to the judge setting the date for the verdict.

Savchenko is viewed by her supporters as a symbol of resistance against the Kremlin, accused of fuelling the separatist war in eastern Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents.

The conflict has claimed nearly 9 200 lives since April 2014.

Read more on:    russia  |  ukraine
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