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Ukraine pilot Savchenko ‘will serve’ her sentence: Kremlin


Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko (left) inside a cage during her trial in Donetsk. PHOTO:

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko (left) inside a cage during her trial in Donetsk.<br />PHOTO:

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko will serve her 22-year jail term over the killing of two Russian journalists, the Kremlin said Saturday despite Kiev’s pushing for a prisoner exchange.

“With Savchenko, the situation is as simple and understandable as possible. Savchenko is a convict… She will serve her sentence,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in excerpts from a televised interview published on TVTs channel’s website.

A court in southern Russia on Tuesday found Savchenko guilty of involvement in the fatal 2014 shelling of the Russian state television reporters in east Ukraine and sentenced her to 22 years in prison.

Her case has prompted condemnation from the European Union and Washington, which have called for her release. Savchenko denies any guilt and held several hunger strikes during her high-profile trial.

Peskov denied any decision had been taken on her release or exchange, despite Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko saying he is ready to swap her for Russian prisoners.

“Only the head of state can take any other decision. As yet there is no such decision,” Peskov said in an interview set to air later Saturday.

He condemned what he called “Russophobic hysteria” in the West over Savchenko’s case, saying that “it is much easier to resolve such problems in quiet.”

Peskov acknowledged that US Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier raised Savchenko’s case on visits to Moscow this week, but downplayed their comments.

“Kerry did not come to put pressure on Putin over Savchenko,” Peskov said.

Savchenko’s sentence will formally enter force on April 3 and she will be sent to a prison colony unless she files an appeal, which she has vowed not to do, according to her lawyers.

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