Lt. Nadiya Savchenko: Prisoner of War

Letter to Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross


Dear Mr. Maurer,

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations requests the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the case of Lt. Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot and member of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion, who was captured by Russian separatists during armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in June 2014. She was transported to and currently is being held in Russia.

According to an Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) document, Nadiya Savchenko has been subjected to the following treatment, in violation of international human rights laws:

–Nadiya Savchenko has been deprived of her freedom and to the right for a defense.

  • During seven days (from 23 to 30 June) the Ukrainian pilot, with the assistance of Russian separatists, was abducted by Russian government forces and forcibly moved out of Ukraine and detained under armed guard in the city of Voronezh, Russia.
  • Initial interrogations of Savchenko by representatives of the Russian intelligence services were conducted in the absence of a lawyer.
  • In an effort to humiliate her and show off their prize captive, Russian separatists posted a video of the first interrogation of Savchenko, showing her with both arms behind her back handcuffed to a metal structure.
  • After subsequent interrogations, Savchenko was charged with the murder of two Russian civilians, journalists who entered the area of armed conflict voluntarily and died as a result of the bombing in the area.
  • Savchenko, as a citizen of another state, was deprived of the right to diplomatic protection.
  • As a means of exerting pressure on Savchenko, Russian investigators use the selective isolation of the pilot and have implemented a ban on the transfer of books in the Ukrainian language to her.
  • Threats against Savchenko’s family members in Ukraine and sanctions against her lawyers in Russia have been used by Russian authorities.

–Court hearings are held without the personal presence of Nadiya Savchenko.

–Nadiya Savchenko is a hostage of the Russian authorities, and in essence, a political prisoner.

The ODF report further stated that “according to international law (the draft of the ‘Code of Crimes against the Peace and Security of Mankind’ of 1996, ‘Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’ of 1998, ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance‘ of 2006), kidnapping of people is a crime against humanity.”

We are concerned and distressed at the illegal kidnapping and continued incarceration of Nadiya Savchenko, her treatment by the separatists and now the Russian Federation. Our World Federation, the WFUWO, joins the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the US State Department, and many human rights groups, in expressing deep concern for Savchenko’s welfare, including prosecution on falsified charges in what has the markings of a political show trial.

Since she was a combatant taking part in an armed conflict and was taken captive, we believe that Lt. Nadiya Savchenko should be designated a “Prisoner of War” as defined by the Third Geneva Convention, Article 4, Part I, with all the rights provided in that document. Further, if there is any doubt as to Lt. Savchenko’s designation, the Third Geneva Convention, Article 5, Part I, paragraph 2 states: “Should any doubt arise whether any of these persons belongs to one of the categories named in the said Article, that person shall have the benefit of the present Convention until his or her status has been determined by some responsible authority.”

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations demands that Russian investigative authorities cease the criminal prosecution of Nadiya Savchenko, as it is politically motivated and is not based on an adequate evidence base. Her trials are not impartial, which is a violation of the requirements of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. She should be released immediately.

And finally, we request that the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva visit her, review her case, and in view of the aforementioned provisions of the Third Geneva Convention, advocate on her behalf as a Prisoner of War.



Irene Orysia Sushko, C.M.

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