Nadia’s character has not changed at all - Savchenko's lawyer

Author : 112.UA 112.UA

Respondent : Illya Novikov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Illya Novikov shared his personal experience of cooperation with imprisoned Ukrainian pilot
10:00, 8 April 2016


I'm not a political lawyer, and I have never been him. I am a criminal lawyer, "a black bone," a "workhorse".

The idea to do this kind of activity, like Savchenko’s case, appeared after the Maidan and the Crimean events (early spring of 2009).

My mother is Ukrainian, and I just could not have the other point of view on what was happening. I had to either stay away or take some position on this issue. My "lawyer’s happiness" means that I can clearly express my position on this whole situation by doing my job.

Related: Feygin: Savchenko receives no medical treatment in detention

We took this case, when it was announced that some Savchenko, not yet well-known at that time, had been arrested and kept in jail in Voronezh (Russian Federation). She was accused of the murder of two Russian journalists. There was a counter movement. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry sought Russian lawyers, a team of lawyers, because it is clear that one advocate would not afford. It was necessary to get to Voronezh each week, and sometimes twice a week. They were looking for a team of lawyers. They were looking for someone to work with. I suggested Mark and Mykola to take up this case, and eventually we were in.

The most important moment was when Nadia first met us. It was July 16, exactly on the eve of the shooting down of "Boeing". We entered a small camera for meetings. There was a short-haired woman in a t-shirt and sweat pants. She was staring at us, three lawyers in suits. She said, "You guys are probably expensive lawyers. And I can pay nothing. How will we cooperate..?" We said, "You do not have to pay us anything. The question is, do you trust us or not?" And it was the moment of truth. She looked at us and said: "Yes, I do trust you. From now, we are working together, until the end." And we are working together until now.


I must say that I do not regret for my choice even for a second, from the time when got involved into Savchenko’s case. My older and more experienced colleagues said: "Why do you take this case? Be quiet, defend criminals, and do not keep hyping tunes of yourself." But that is not what I want. The true lawyer's job is the one about which I had read as a child, in 13 years, in books about Perry Mason. But in the current situation, the courts, it does not matter whether the defendant is right or wrong, he has killed or stolen, the conviction is always announced. That is why our profession degenerates, it becomes palliative. There is palliative care for terminally ill patients. Russian palliative justice works, in fact, on the same principles, especially for hopelessly accused. The man has been charged and that’s all. His fate is sealed. However, there is an opportunity to show that there is the opportunity to fight, to change something. There is an opportunity to show something different, contrary to justice machine.

Related: Savchenko’s mother: Russia demands that Ukraine admits daughter’s guilt


All this could end with a huge zilch if we failed during the process. Especially, when it was our turn to present evidence to convince all the observers. It is a huge amount of press and diplomats, who on the shipping instructions went from Moscow to this little Donetsk and saw what was happening.

If there was some kind of "on the one hand, on the other hand", "maybe it is she, maybe not," it would be a negative result of our work, because the support that she currently receives, up to Obama, is important. When we have got involved into this case, formulating what we want, we understood that if there is the court, there will be a sentence. But after the verdict, she would need some support, which does not allow her stay in the Russian jail. We believed that Pope and Obama should voice the support, knowing that this is impossible, but we still have to somehow to approach it.

Related: Savchenko’s defense team asks world leaders to push Russia to release her

Even before the moment when Obama voiced his support. We demanded the immediate release, I thought it was impossible. Usually the American President does not make statements of support in such cases. But in this case he did. It is a win. Abstracting from other circumstances that MP Savchenko is a member of the PACE, such things have happened before. It depends on the personal luck of the lawyer.

Nadia’s character has not changed at all. From the very beginning, from the very first day, she has been so tough and uncompromising...

She began to understand the people better; it seems to me, it is easier to readthem. In prison, it is always very vivid. She began to understand better what is happening in the world and politics. Because in the first few months, when she was elected as a MP, she was very naive in this respect. But not now. Now she usually understands everything, when receives another message.

Related: Polozov: Savchenko is the symbol of opposition to Putin’s regime


One of the first things we talked about in jail with Nadia was life in a whole. Nadia, watching and experiencing firsthand what a Soviet-style trial is, has made a very mature judgment, that now, in the 21st century, only jury can maintain such criminal cases, heavy, confused, and complicated. The first thing she will do when comes back to Ukraine, if it is be in the near future, she will initiate the law on changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure for the restoration a full jury trial in Ukraine. Because the Constitution of Ukraine promises that such a court would be created, and actually now we have a “quite crippled” system today. 

Related: "Savchenko list" is now lengthened to 54 individuals

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