Moscow releases Savchenko

Russia released Ukrainian fighter pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who had been sentenced to 22 years in prison, and sent her home to Ukraine on Wednesday. In return the government in Kiev freed two men it suspects of being Russian soldiers. Who stands to gain from Savchenko's release?

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Latvijas Avize (LV) /

A highly inconvenient icon

Not everyone was delighted about Nadiya Savchenko's release, Latvijas avīze observes:

“For two years Ukraine's politicians have been talking about a return to Europe but in reality they are just hiding behind loud patriotic slogans, covering up their shady businesses and lining their pockets. Savchenko is also an inconvenience for the oligarchs who still pull the strings in Ukrainian politics. … And despite his declarations of love President Poroshenko is not happy about Savchenko's return either because she has said that if the people want her to she could become president. And she is also a nuisance for Western politicians who are willing to turn a blind eye when it comes to the annexation of Crimea. … She is useful only for the Ukrainian people. She is like an icon who has stepped off the TV screen to become a real leader.”

Polityka (PL) /

Ukrainian pilot had served her purpose for Putin

The release of the Ukrainian fighter jet pilot cannot be interpreted as a victory of the West against Moscow, writes Jagienka Wilczak on her blog with Polityka:

“Savchenko was no longer important for President Vladimir Putin. He has already shown that he can be ruthless and unforgiving when fighting the enemy. She was kidnapped on Ukrainian soil, sent to prison, prosecuted and kept in a cage while on trial. Then after a trial that lasted 18 months she was convicted by a Russian court. Naturally this was all just a dramatic show put on for the Russian people to demonstrate Putin's severity.”

Delfi (LT) /

Heroine refuses to be exploited

The various camps in Ukraine are now trying to use Savchenko to achieve their own political ends, columnist Ramūnas Bogdanas writes in the online portal Delfi:

“On the one hand Savchenko is an independent personality who is passionate about her fatherland and ready to sacrifice her own life to defend it. On the other hand the politicians are using her image for their own power games. ... The first indications, however, are that Savchenko has what it takes to distinguish the real from the purely decorative. This quality should help her to defend herself against being instrumentalised and to become an important political figure in her own right, because her heart beats for the same things as those of many Ukrainians - for independence and transparency.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Time to revive the Minsk Process

Savchenko's release can seen as a gesture of good will to Europe on Russia's part, Der Standard believes:

“The show trial against Savchenko already did enough damage to Russia's image. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov even supported - at least rhetorically - Kiev's ambitions for the return of Donbass to the Ukrainian fold if it's done for humanitarian reasons. There will to improve relations is discernible, but it must be backed up by deeds - on both sides, incidentally, because no one on the continent has any interest in a permanent confrontation. Gestures and set phrases alone aren't enough. The Minsk Process must be re-initiated. For that Russia must put pressure on the separatists, but Brussels must also pressure Kiev to hold to the agreement.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Nadiya stands for hope

Both the government and the opposition in Ukraine are pinning great hopes on Savchenko's return, political scientist Dan Nicu writes in his blog for Adevărul:

“The name Nadiya means hope in Ukrainian, and President Poroshenko's hope is the reintegration of Donbass. ... Savchenko's return is a political event of utmost importance for Ukraine, which is engaged in an unofficial war with Russia over the control of the regions in the east of the country and the Crimean Peninsula. On the one hand it gives the government in Kiev additional arguments for convincing the international community that Russia is responsible for part of the war in eastern Ukraine. On the other it consolidates the position of the [opposition] Fatherland Party.”

Postimees (EE) /

A role model in the fight for truth and human dignity

Savchenko is rightly being hailed as a hero on her return to Ukraine, Postimees believes:

“Some politicians and activists have tried to portray her release as the result of their own efforts. But this is false. It is Nadiya Savchenko's own personal moral victory because she was the one who had to put up with the harsh conditions and humiliations over two years. She is a role model in the fight for truth and human dignity. She is the undisputed hero of her people and her state. The agents of the GRU foreign intelligence agency, Yerofeyev and Alexandrov, received a very different welcome in Moscow. The two men, who were sent as soldiers to Ukraine and followed their superiors' orders, were not given a hero's welcome. On the contrary, their case has shown how easily the Russian regime gives up those who serve it.”

More opinions

Deutschlandfunk (DE) / 25 May 2016
  Savchenko's release a defeat for Putin (in German)