29 April, 2015 – Toronto/Ottawa
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) welcomed Vira Savchenko, sister of illegally imprisoned Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, to Canada.
Vira Savchenko was in Canada to raise awareness of the illegal arrest and imprisonment of her sister Nadiya by Russian authorities. While in Canada, she participated in the International Roundtable discussion “Reforms, Security and the European Ukraine” on Saturday April 25 in Toronto, and a banquet on Sunday April 26, hosted by Dopomoha Ukraini, the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, Canada Ukraine Chamber of Commerce and the UCC. On April 27-28, Ms. Savchenko met with political leaders, the Ukrainian community and the media in Ottawa.
Lt. Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force pilot, was abducted by Kremlin-backed terrorists in Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine in June 2014. She was illegally removed from Ukrainian territory to the Russian Federation, where she continues to be illegally imprisoned.
Savchenko’s detention is a flagrant violation of her basic human rights and Russia’s international commitments. She is a victim of Russia’s war against Ukraine and a political prisoner who must be immediately released by the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation is currently illegally detaining other Ukrainian citizens, in violation of their rights, such as filmmaker Oleh Sentsov.
Savchenko is being held in Moscow where she awaits a trial date on charges that she provided the coordinates of two Russian journalists who were killed in a mortar attack in Luhansk oblast. Savchenko denies the charges and cell phone records confirm that she had already been captured and was in custody when the journalists were killed.
She undertook a hunger strike in protest of her illegal detention. She has lost 17 kilograms (37 pounds) or 26% of her body weight. Her situation is critical.
For a Chronology of Events on the illegal imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko please click here
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights and governments across the world have called for Savchenko’s immediate release.
While in Ottawa, Vira raised awareness of the grave situation concerning Nadiya and met with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Consular, David Anderson, M.P.; the Honourable Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee; Opposition Members of Parliament Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar, M.P. (NDP) and, Members of Parliament the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Chrystia Freeland (Liberal), as well as with the media. On the evening of April 27, Ms. Savchenko addressed over 100 members of the Ukrainian community assembled at Ottawa’s Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral’s hall, and responded to questions from the audience. Vira also met with representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine to Canada.