Ukrainian pilot held by Russia granted diplomatic status in attempt to free her

By JC Finley  |  Jan. 26, 2015 at 1:27 PM
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KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- In a diplomatic maneuver to secure the release of detained Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko from Russia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Monday confirmed the 33-year-old a member of parliament.

As a member of parliament, "she will be granted an international diplomatic immunity," Batkivschyna party leader Yulia Tymoshenko said ahead of Monday's session, a move intended to force Russia's release of the newly minted Ukrainian delegate.

Savchenko, who was abducted by Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine in June before being transferred to Russia, was added to the parliamentary ballot in October. The Central Election Commission registered the pilot as a member of parliament on Nov. 19, 2014.

Following Savchenko's confirmation on Monday, Anne Brasseur, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, called on Russia to release the detained pilot.

Russia indicted Savchenko for complicity in the murder of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

She has maintained her innocence and has reportedly undertaken a hunger strike. A social media campaign was launched to raise awareness of her detention using the hashtag #FreeSavchenko.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Geoff Pyatt tweeted Monday:

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