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Ukraine pilot threatens hunger strike over Russia 'show trial'

[JURIST] A Ukrainian pilot on trial in Russia on Thursday told the court she is going on a dry hunger strike after facing another delay at trial. Nadezhda Savchenko has been charged with complicity in the killing of two journalists, with prosecutors accusing her of providing coordinates to the Ukrainian army for the attack in which the reporters were killed. According to her lawyers, the case against Savchenko is a "show trial" and that call data from her cell phone disproves charges against her [Reuters report]. Prosecutors have demanded a 23-year sentence. Savchenko has protested her innocence, calling the proceedings against her unjust and saying that she was a Ukrainian officer who had a right to defend her country. Both rights groups and Western politicians have called for the release [AP, AFP report] of the pilot, who was made a member of Ukraine's parliament [DW report] after her arrest. Her lawyer, Mark Feygin, has called her a prisoner of war and accused Russia of kidnapping and smuggling her across the border to try her in June 2014.

Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since the annexation of Crimea [JURIST backgrounder] in March 2014. Last month Russia filed suit [JURIST report] against Ukraine over Ukraine's defaut on $3 billion in bonds. A Ukrainian official said in January that the nation plans to sue Russia [JURIST report] in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on claims of financing terrorism. In December the UN issues a report about serious human rights concerns [JURIST report] that persist in Ukraine. In August a Russian military court sentenced [JURIST report] two Ukrainian activists to substantial jail time for the charge of conspiring to commit terror attacks. Last March the EU committed to stand by [JURIST report] its policy of refusing to recognize Crimea's annexation, as they purport the illegality of Russia's referendum. Last February Russian liberal political activist Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times [BBC report] in the middle of busy downtown Moscow. Nemtsov was openly politically opposed to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its role in Ukraine, and many believe Vladimir Putin ordered the killing.

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