Shaheen Statement on Release of Ukrainian Servicewoman Nadiya Savchenko from Russian Prison

**In March, Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison by a Russian court after a six month show trial**

May 25, 2016

(WASHINGTON) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations European Affairs Subcommittee, reacted to the release of Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko from a Russian prison in a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. In March, Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison by a Russian court after a six month show trial. Savchenko has been held by Russia since June 2014, when she was captured by Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine and taken across the border. Shaheen has repeatedly called on Russia to release Savchenko.

“From the moment she was captured, the Russian government has sought to make an example of Nadiya Savchenko,” said Shaheen. “I am very relieved to know that Nadiya Savchenko is walking free after being held for nearly two years in Russian detention. This ordeal has once again demonstrated Russia’s disregard for human rights and international law. Through it all, Nadiya has shown tremendous bravery and has rightly become a hero to the Ukrainian people. Russia must stop its underhanded attempts to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty.”

Savchenko is well-known in Ukraine as one of the first women to serve as a pilot in the Ukrainian Air Force. She is also a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. Savchenko was one of 20  women political prisoners whose release has been sought by the FreeThe20 Campaign, established by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in September 2015.

Last year, Shaheen traveled to Poland and Latvia, where she reiterated America’s support for allies in Central and Eastern Europe that are under threat from Russian aggression. During her trip, Shaheen presented an Atlantic Council Freedom Award to Savchenko’s sister in honor of Nadiya’s courage defending and advancing the cause of freedom in her country.