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Savchenko Quits Ukrainian Party, But Plans To Continue Politics

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service December 13, 2016

Ukraine's Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party said on December 13 that Ukrainian lawmaker Nadia Savchenko resigned from the political party at the end of October.

The announcement -- confirmed by Savchenko's spokesperson Tatyana Protorchenko -- came a day after the military aviator turned lawmaker confirmed that she had met in Minsk with eastern Ukraine's Russia-backed separatist leaders Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky.

Protorchenko said Savchenko remains a member of Batkivshchyna's parliamentary faction for now, but will be concentrating her political activity on her own "civil platform" and will "soon start her career as an independent lawmaker."

Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko told Ukraine's 112 television channel on December 12 that Savchenko could be expelled from the party's faction when it meets on December 20.

She said Shavchenko had been called to that meeting "to talk and to take a decision."

Tymoshenko also said "Savchenko can plan her life and political activity however she likes. She has nothing in common with the Batkivshchyna Party."

Savchenko told RFE/RL on December 13 that she will continue her efforts to free Ukrainians held captive by Russia-backed separatists.

'Positive' Talks

Savchenko, who was jailed in Russia in 2014 and became a national symbol of resistance before her release in May, rejected reports that her talks with Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky were secret. She said there had been months of preparations.

She denied that her meeting was a step toward legalizing "terrorists," saying "nobody can legalize what is illegal."

Savchenko also said there are no grounds to expel her from the parliamentary National Defense Committee, as urged by some lawmakers, and that what Ukraine needs now is peace.

According to Savchenko, two Russian representatives responsible for humanitarian issues were present at the talks in Minsk.

She said a chief goal of the meeting was to outline the number of people held by both sides.

She said that a separatist claim that some 700 separatist fighters are in Kyiv's custody is far from the truth.

Savchenko described the talks as positive and said that they will continue, but that no specific date has been set for the next round.

With reporting by The Kyiv Post and Interfax

Source: http://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-savchenko -rejects-criticism-for-meeting- separatists/28173875.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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