Ukraine's Savchenko launches hunger strike over political inaction

By REUTERS
August 2, 2016 15:19

KIEV - Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian servicewoman-turned-lawmaker who spent two years in a Russian jail, announced a new hunger strike on Tuesday to speed up the release of other Ukrainian prisoners-of-war, accusing Ukraine's president of ignoring their plight.

Savchenko's return from Russia in May via a prisoner swap was a PR coup for President Petro Poroshenko. But her membership of a main opposition party and vocal criticism of key policies threaten to make her a thorn in his side.

She has been campaigning for the release via prisoner swap of the around 25 Ukrainians still held by Russia or pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, but said the Ukrainian authorities were not committed to securing their freedom.

Releasing prisoners-of-war is one of the terms of the 12-point Minsk peace deal, which was brokered between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists in February 2015 with the aim of ending a conflict which has killed over 9,400 since April 2014.

Other conditions, including a complete cessation of fighting in Ukraine's eastern territory and a pull-back of heavy weapons from the front line, have also not yet been fulfilled, raising concerns the ceasefire agreement could collapse.




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