During a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 14th, US President Barack Obama urged the Russian leader to release Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, Interfax reported.
The news agency quoted the press secretary of the US Embassy in Moscow, Will Stevens.
"President Obama also urged President Putin to release detained pilot and parliamentarian Nadiya Savchenko in accordance with the Minsk commitment to release all unlawfully detained persons," Stevens said.
According to the White House’s website, the conversation mostly addressed the war in Syria, and specifically Putin’s announcement that the majority of Russian forces in Syria would be withdrawn.
The two leaders also discussed the war in Ukraine, and President Obama emphasized the need “for combined Russian-separatist forces to implement the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and to provide monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) with unfettered access to separatist-controlled areas, including the Russia-Ukraine border”, as stated in a White House press release.
Nadiya Savchenko has been charged with the murder of two Russian journalists. It is widely believed that Savchenko was in fact captured by Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) separatists in eastern Ukraine and was illegally transported to Russia, where the case was fabricated against her.
Savchenko was elected to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada in absentia in October of 2014, and became an official delegate of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe several months later.
On March 2nd, the prosecutor’s office requested that she be sentenced to 23 years in a penal colony plus a fine of 100,000 rubles ($1,400).
Savchenko declared a dry hunger strike on March 3rd after the Donetsk City Court in the Rostov region announced that she would not be given a chance to make her final closing statement during a court hearing.