22 years behind bars for Savchenko

A Russian court has found the Ukrainian politician Nadiya Savchenko guilty of involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine and sentenced her to 22 years in jail. For commentators the internationally condemned trial will only heighten tensions between Moscow and Kiev.

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Polityka (PL) /

Putin demonstrates his intransigence

Savchenko's conviction is another demonstration of power by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Jagienka Wilczak writes in her blog for the centre-left news magazine Polityka:

“This judgement is a sort of revenge for the fact that the aggression in Ukraine has not brought Russia the victory it had expected. It allows Putin to express all his anger. And at the same time it is a brazen display of the partiality and political motivation of the court, which ruled exactly as the president wanted it to. With this trial Putin wanted to display his strength and intransigence. That's what the Russians want to see. It's why they love their president, who hasn't responded in the least to international appeals to free the pilot.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Moscow has created a Ukrainian hero

Russia has considerably strengthened the Ukrainian national identity with Savchenko's trial, the conservative daily Financial Times comments:

“Her quiet courage and contempt for the Russian court, and her long spells on hunger strike, have made her a hero at home. A lengthy jail sentence would turn her into a martyr figure. By persecuting Ms Savchenko and others, on top of its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in the Donbass, Moscow has done more to nurture a sense of national identity in Ukraine than had been achieved in the country’s previous two decades of post-Soviet independence.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Kiev can also help ease the tension

The left-leaning daily taz criticises the Russian call for Savchenko to be sent to prison for 23 years but also sees it as Ukraine's responsibility to take action:

“People in Ukraine have little interest in the fates of the two murdered Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin. Two journalists were shot dead, and it is the duty of a constitutional state to conduct an immediate investigation. ... If the court in the Russian city of Donetzk condemns Savchenko it will only further poison the tense relations between Ukraine and Russia and justify the calls for a complete stop to diplomatic relations. Russia could ease the tensions by releasing the defendant. And Ukraine could contribute to improving the tense relations by issuing an official statement of condolence to the families of the Russian journalists who were killed.”