Savchenko: I am a human being, a soldier first and then a woman
Facts you didn't know about Nadiya Savchenko's life behind the bars, her dreams, weaknesses and friends (part 2)
112.International publishes excerpt from Nadiya Savchenko's interview to svoboda.org where you can find the original text.
The first part of interview with Nadiya Savchenko: Putin is not eternal
- Nadiya, please tell us, how many prisoners and hostages remain on both sides [in Russia and in Ukraine] today?
- In Russia, the number of the hostages is continuously growing by the number of the Crimean Tatars. They are tortured and beaten. The list of Crimean Tatars is always replenished. There is a list of those kept in captivity by the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. According to their information, there are about 40 people kept there [by the Russian-backed militants]. But our list much longer and it is growing: up to 200 people. They say that they have only 35 Ukrainians, and the rest may be missing or somewhere buried. We have more prisoners than they do. They have just killed a lot of our guys.
- How long have you been smoking? Did you try to give in jail?
- When you are hungry and drink rotten water from the rusty pipes, it is impossible to give up smoking. In these conditions, the cigarette is some kind of happiness.
- Please, tell us how did you fall into captivity?
- It was a spontaneous counter-attack. Many people were wounded. I went to find those wounded in order to help them. A lot of our equipment was destroyed. I was captured as a fool, because I forgot a grenade.
- Well, you would have a grenade, so what?
- I would not have got into captivity. I am an officer. Each person decides for himself to survive or die.
- But it is… death!
- I'm always ready to die. I am always ready to live.
- Did you try to escape from captivity? Did you have such an opportunity?
- There were eight of our boys in the next cell. It was impossible to release them all. In order to escape from captivity, I had to kill three guards. Try to kill the one who shoots you. It is impossible to escape from captivity without killing people.
- Let's change the subject. You said that you are ready to become a president. What would you do first as a president?
- If I become president in the current situation, I will have no value as a president. But the first thing I would do as a president… I would lustrate the entire apparatus. I cannot become a president alone. The whole country should become a president together with me. I need to find some smart people, lawyers, economists, who would have built the platform. I am just the military.
- Why do you have so many claims towards the press?
- When I do interviews, I speak with a person, not with the press. I do not try to gain popularity. I enjoy a lively dialogue. When some stupid girl pokes me with a microphone and asks me, oh, when you are going to get married because you are a popular bride; I do not have time for this... So I react aggressively to journalists in some situations.
- What was the most difficult time for you in captivity?
- I started my period, a heavy one. And I have nothing. No pads. They took away my uniform. I asked to bring something for me. A pill or something. They agreed. Then they came in the evening. Everything was bloody. I need some cleaning. Cool, huh? Normal life reality. I went to the toilet and you know what? There was a camera looking at me. I can neither wash nor use the toilet. Would you call it pressure or not? Then they told me to go to bed at ten. The light is switched off, but the night lights are on. They told me to lie in better in a special way to be more visible for the camera. They told me not to put my hands under the blanket. I never did what they told me to do. I was even nice to start a hunger strike.
They have learned that the prisoners start hunger strikes to protest against the conditions of detention. But no one withstands more than 10 days. I was in a complete isolation. Even the windows were painted over with white paint. Four walls. Nothing to look at. First they giggled at my hunger strike. Then I started vomiting with blood. But I felt good mentally and emotionally. I remember my fortieth day of hunger strike. They were just wondering, how so? They started to fry potatoes in the corridor. They wanted me to feel hungry. Offered me food. I refused to eat their potatoes, fried with onions. Then was the 60th day. I felt no hunger. In general, I had forgotten what a meal is. It is clear that I was losing my weight, my health condition.
- Are you more a woman or a soldier?
- I am a human; I never divide people by sex. Primarily, it is a person, then her favorite work, her passion. And only after that she is a woman or a man. I am a human being, a soldier first and then a woman.
- What did you dream about in prison?
- I wanted to fly and to swim. Later, when I stopped my hunger strike, I wanted to eat salmon. I wanted to taste some Ukrainian chocolate. And in jail it was impossible to get. There were only "Alenka" (name of the Russian chocolate). And it is like a rubber paste. Very often I dreamed as I swim or fly. You may have seen shkonka prison. And the mattresses were very thin. My back was really painful. And when I was losing my weight, all my bones were like turning over. My nerves pinched. You get up at night and go. You can not sleep at all...
- How many kilograms have you lost during your hunger strike?
- When I was captured, my weight was 80 kg. Now I weigh 70. And it came to 50-49 kg. If I weighted 40 kilos, this would be the point of no return. It would be anorexia. Muscle mass does not restore.
- When did you feel that you are free?
- When I saw the yellow-blue stripe on the plane. Prior to this, I did not know where did I go, to Siberia or to Kyiv. When we soared, I began to feel it. I kept waiting for crossing the border of Ukraine. When we crossed the border, I began to recognize the land. I used to see Ukraine from the air. I recognized Chuhuyev and Kharkiv airports. Familiar roads. Yes! I'm happy. I am in Ukraine. I thought our plane would be shot down.
- Do you cry often?
- Last time I cried when buried my uncle. At the age of 15. Of course, I had some hysterics in my life. But I almost never cry. I think that the man cries when he spares himself. It is a human weakness. Now I take many things very calmly. If I am guilty, I just take it, and this is not a reason to cry. And as a child I cried a lot. I remember when a puppy ate a chicken. My father has beaten that puppy. I sobbed. I was sorry for a puppy, and sorry for a chicken. In prison, I did not cry even once. Wait… I dreamed that I hugged my sister. In a dream. I felt my sister. I woke up, and all the pillow was wet with tears.
- Do you have some weaknesses?
- You know, all my life I was trying not to have weaknesses. My weakness is my sister and my mother. But my sister is strong too.
- Were you in a rage?
- Rage, anger. But I know how to control it. Thanks God, I have no children and no weaknesses.
- What was the worst thing in the war? Have you witnessed the death of the people there?
- The most difficult thing was to see the parts of the corpse. It is hard to collect these parts. I have seen it in Iraq.
- Have you lost friends during the war?
- Yes, of course, and a lot of my friends died in Iraq and here. I do not get attached to people. Of course, they are my friends. War is evil. I do not baptize children because the person who has killed has no right to do that. At I do not go to the funerals, because I cannot see how relatives burry loved one. All this weeping. All these emotions… People have to live. Life is for living, and death is for dead.
- You are very emotional person.
- Not always. I am emotional when I want to. I can hide my emotions. But now I'm trying to be honest with people. I am not trying to hide, pretend to be someone. I will learn to play these vile political games, if necessary. What matters is that the end justifies the means.
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