Pilot jailed in Russia begins movement for change in Ukraine

Pilot jailed in Russia begins movement for change in Ukraine

Tue Dec 27, 2016 5:40PM

Nadiya Savchenko, the popular female Ukrainian pilot who served for a while in Russia’s jails, has launched a movement opposing Ukraine’s pro-Western government.

Savchenko announced the launch of her movement on Tuesday, saying that it would seek change in Ukraine, a country grappling with economic problems and beset by a conflict in its eastern territories.

“This is meant to … create a real change in the system,” Savchenko told reporters in the western city of Lviv, adding that the movement would be transformed into a political party when the time was right.

Her movement is called RUNA, a non-English acronym that stands for the Movement of Ukraine’s Active People.

Savchenko has been a main element of national pride for a Ukraine that has distanced itself from Russia since 2014. The servicewoman was sentenced in Russia for alleged complicity in the murder of two Russian state television journalists in the war zone in June 2014. She then launched a hunger strike, managed to secure her release in May after two years in jail and returned to Ukraine to become a symbol of the new establishment’s resistance against Russia.

Savchenko has been a key critic of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, especially on the issue of the conflict in the country’s industrial east. Kiev accuses Moscow of having a role in the conflict, which has killed more than 10,000 people over the past two years. Savchenko, however, says the government should engage in a dialogue with pro-Russians, a position that even cost the pilot-turned-politician her leadership post of the populist political party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The 35-year-old, who was elected as a Ukrainian lawmaker in absentia during her imprisonment in Russia, has also criticized Poroshenko’s economic policies although the Ukrainian administration claims it has managed to contain the crisis, which unfolded two years ago.

Leave a Reply