In Ukraine

Commentary by Serget Markov, originally published in Russia on Izvestia , translated for Russia Insider by Julia Rakhmetova and Rhod Mackenzie

Nadiya Savchenko on trial in Donetsk, Russia on Feb 1, 2016 (Susan Ormiston, CBC)

Nadiya Savchenko on trial in Donetsk, Russia on Feb 1, 2016 (Susan Ormiston, CBC)

The trial of Nadezhda (Nadiya) Savchenko is setting a precedent, which is why it has enormous political resonance. In the first trial of a Ukrainian citizen for a military action, Russia is trying a Ukrainian officer for murdering two Russian journalists. Russia is showing that anyone involved in the murder of Russian citizens will be punished, while Savchenko’s followers want these crimes to go unpunished.

Nadezhda Savchenko was absent with leave when she went to the Donbass to fight ‘separatists’. She joined the  neo-Nazi ‘Aidar’ battalion, which has committed atrocities vis a vis anti-fascist militia and civilians in the Donbass. Even Amnesty International, that turns a blind eye to many military offenses  against opponents of the Kiev regime, has accused ‘Aidar’ of torture and reprisals against civilians. According to many witnesses, Savchenko took personal part in tortures of anti-fascist militias.

Russia is trying Savchenko, accused of being spotter not for abusing the militia, but in the murder of Russian journalists. In early summer of 2014, the kidnapping and murder of journalists from Russia was a deliberate and widespread Kiev policy. From April to June 2014, using documented violence and atrocities, the new repressive, Russophobic regime in Kiev tried to suppress the rebellion of the Russian population of Novorossia. They succeeded in crushing the protests using violence in Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye and Nikolayev. However they failed to do so in the Donbass.

Kiev admitted that the rebellion had to be suppressed violently in order to frighten other potential opponents, encouraging rather than halting military actions against anti-fascist militia and civilians. The Russian journalists were a threat, because the western media had deserted the region. Only the Russian journalists reported the truth in the Donbass to Russia, Ukraine and the world, preventing Kiev from taking over the region. That’s why Kiev was determined to intimidate the Russian journalists by kidnapping, torturing and killing them. This was the mission that Savchenko was involved in. It was not by chance that the Russian journalists came under fire, the fire was aimed at them.

How is it that Savchenko was arrested in Russia? Pursued by the Donbass anti-fascist militia hundreds of Ukrainian militaries escaped to Russia, where a separate camp was organized for them.

All were returned to the Ukraine without problem, but Nadezhda Savchenko was identified as the spotter who helped organize the fire against civilians. It turned out that she was also involved in attacks on the Russian journalists who were killed.

Those who call for Savchenko to be freed are calling for massive terror against civilians. They want neo-Nazis to have the right to kill Russians. That’s what the struggle is about.

Those calling for humanity toward Savchenko didn’t call for mercy toward the victims of the May 2, 2014 slaughter in Odessa, when neo-Nazis prevented an antifascist rebellion. They didn’t call for humanity with respect to the millions of citizens of the Donbass hiding in basements from mass shootings by Ukrainian troops. Those people are not calling for mercy for the hundreds of political prisoners serving time in State Security Service jails subjected to systematic atrocities. It’s enough to look at the captured militiamen the Ukrainian exchanges. They can hardly crawl out of the bus.

Calls for liberating Nadezhda Savchenko imply massive repression against journalists, civilians and political opponents. Russian society is not split on the need to try Savchenko, whose case reveals the existence of a fifth column in Russia that supports the right of neo-Nazis to kill journalists and civilians because they are Russian.  Although they benefit from the political liberties guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, they are isolated.

It’s obvious that Savchenko’s followers have few rational arguments, and are ready to use whatever comes to hand, even calling for immunity, since Savchenko is a member of the Ukrainian parliament and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. But she came to these positions after being arrested for these crimes, and parliamentary immunity is not retroactive.

By bringing to justice the Ukrainian officer Nadezhda Savchenko, for starters, Russia is ruining the pretense that crime is ok, hoping the Ukrainian courts will also try military officers for crimes against Donbass civilians. But this would probably require regime-change in Kiev.

Read also:
Extremist heroine: Report on CBC News of opening of the trial in Russia of Ukrainian paramilitary Nadiya Savchenko, New Cold, Feb 16, 2016


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