On 13 August, Nadiya Savchenko’s Russian defence lawyer, Mark Feygin, met the Ukrainian community and provided a frank assessment of the Savchenko case as the trial date approaches. On the same day, he gave an interview to the BBC Ukrainian service, during which he answered questions about the Russian judicial process and the prospects in relation to the likely verdict and Nadiya’s possible release.

Feygin told the BBC that Nadiya stood up well to her transfer from Moscow to the Novocherkassk jail in Rostov, a journey of over 1000km. 

Her legal team would have preferred the trial to have been held in Moscow, which would have allowed daily visits, and would also have made it easier for European representatives to follow the case.


In relation to the charges against Nadiya and the legal process, Feygin was clear that the court cannot be considered an independent arbiter between the state and the citizen. 

“How can one call a court independent , when it doesn’t take into consideration the body of evidence detailing Savchenko’s innocence, and the fabrication of the case which the defence has been submitting regularly during the year that Savchenko has been facing charges?” 

He dismissed as ‘absurd’ the allegations that Savchenko voluntarily crossed the Russian border after being released from captivity on 23 June 2014 and the charges against her. 

Although Feygin is confident that the defence team will prove Nadiya’s innocence, he believes it is inevitable she will be found guilty, “because it is not the court who decides her case. The verdict is being drawn up in the Kremlin.”

Likely sentence

Feygin is preparing Savchenko for a likely 25-year sentence, but he also predicts that this will spark outrage. 

He hopes that the international community will send a direct and clear message to the Kremlin to release her. 

Way out

He believes a realistic scenario is that Nadiya Savchenko may become part of a negotiated exchange (possibly with the two Russian officers, Yerofyeyev and Aleksandrov, currently being held in Kyiv) under a convention which allows prisoners in Ukraine and Russia to serve their sentences in their own countries. This would allow Russia to save face – to state that they convicted her and punished those guilty of the killings of Russian journalists, as well as serving their propaganda ends by showing that they did not yield to the Kyiv government. 

Nevertheless, he stressed that this solution would not be possible without sustained pressure from Western governments, even though an innocent woman has been indicted against the background of Russian aggression against Ukraine. 

Feygin described Nadiya Savchenko as a person who wants to get results – positive or negative. She even once told him that death was also a result. He, however, said that the aim of the defence team was to secure her release, but not at the expense of her reputation. And Nadiya herself would never confess just to secure her release. 


On the wider repercussions of the Savchenko case, Feygin said that Russia will never be the same in the eyes of the international community, and it would be impossible to prove to the world that it is a civilised state, and that the courts are real, not ‘simply decoration’. He concluded, 


“It will take decades to get our hands clean again…We will have to walk a long road to get over that past, even after there will be a new post-Putin Russia.” 

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Ukrayinska Dumka


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