Former Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadia Savchenko – who became famous for being imprisoned in Russia and then being returned to Kiev in a prisoner exchange – has been arrested on charges of planning an “attack on the Rada”, the Ukrainian Parliament. According to the Ukrainian attorney general Yuriy Lutsenko investigators have found “irrefutable” evidence that Nadia Savchenko was planning terrorist attacks and a “coup attempt.”
“She planned, personally recruited, and personally gave instructions about how to commit a terrorist act,” said Lutsenko. This allegedly involved an attack on the parliament using shells, mortars and automatic weapons. The day before Savchenko’s arrest on Friday, parliament voted to strip her of her political immunity. A court in Kiev has ordered the 36-year-old to be detained for two months pending further investigation.
Savchenko has denied all the accusations: however, she has admitted to discussing “absurd plans of a coup attempt and terrorist attacks against high-ranking officials” when she was interrogated by the Ukrainian Security Service. She has also refused to admit or deny that she was in possession of a gun and three hand grenades when she was stopped from entering the parliament building prior to her arrest.
Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in prison by a Russian court after she was found guilty of killing of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in June 2014, at the height of the conflict between Kiev and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
In May 2016, after almost two years of imprisonment, she was released in an exchange of prisoners. While in prison in Russia, Savchenko was elected to the Ukrainian parliament as an opposition deputy. As a MP she has drawn criticism for meeting with rebels from eastern Ukraine without informing the government and for comments interpreted by Ukrainian nationalists as accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea.