Savchenko Case – September 30

Nadezhda Savchenko

Nadezhda Savchenko

Once again, I am using Novaya Gazeta for the blow-by-blow.  So, without further ado…

10:55 – Court is ready to open in session.  All the players are there, including the lawyers, (diplomatic) Consuls, Savchenko’s mama, and Savchenko herself.  Savchenko chatting with her mom, while waiting for the judges to enter court.

11:00 – Court opens in session.  The Presiding Judge, Leonid Stapenenko, warns the public and the journalists to maintain decorum.

11:05 – Immediately the panel of judges recess to deliberate on the motion which ended yesterday’s session, namely the motion to discharge one of the charges against Savchenko:  Namely the charge of attempted murder of Ella Buryka.

[Recall that Buryka is one of the residents of that apartment building which was shelled allegedly by a Ukrainian tank of which Savchenko allegedly directed fire.  Buryka was forced to flee the building and came under further shelling on the road, along with the others; she was fortunate not to suffer any injuries.]

Defense motion based on the technical fact that Buryka is a citizen of Ukraine, not of the Russian Federation.  According to her own testimony, Buryka never turned to her own government (=the government in Kiev) to lodge a complaint about being shelled by a Ukrainian tank.

11:27 – The judges return with their ruling:  At this stage, they will not dismiss this charge, without hearing further facts on this matter.

11:32 – Defense Attorney Ilya Novikov issues a new motion:  He requests the Court for permission to conduct a field trip for an experiment.  He concedes that it is early in the trial for such a field trip, and yet the weather conditions determine that this must be undertaken soon.

11:35 – Savchenko asks the Judges [yalensis:  Western readers should know, that in Russian courts it is customary for the defendants to address the judges directly from time to time, and even pose questions directly to witnesses] to clarify, if the experiment may be conducted at a place that is not exactly the place where the crime happened.  Supporting the motion of her own attorney, Savchenko points out, that the Prosecution conducted a similar experiment near Moscow, instead of in Luhansk.

11:39 – Prosecution objects to the experiment, saying that the results of their (=Prosecution’s) experiments have not been analyzed by the court.  Judge Stepanenko rules against the Defense motion.

11:42 – the Prosecutors relay the fact, that the mama of the slain journalist Voloshin, will not be able to attend court, not even on videoconference – due to the severity of her health situation.  Currently she is in the Botkin Hospital in Moscow.  However, according to the Prosecutors, she did give her agreement for them to read out her prior testimony.

11:47 – Defense objects to this.  They say they need to question Voloshina in person, and are willing to wait (until she is out of the hospital).

The court notes into the record an amendment, whereby Voloshina’s personal presence in the court is impossible, due to medical situation.

11:50 – Then follows the reading of Voloshina’s prior testimony [the written transcript presumably of the preliminary investigation].

On 17 June (2014) one of her (female) acquaintances phoned her to tell her, that she just saw on the TV news, that the correspondent Anton Voloshin has disappeared without a trace in Luhansk.  On that very same day, Mrs. Voloshina was also phoned by colleagues of her son, who communicated to her, what had happened.

11:55 – Mrs. Voloshina had testified, that she had warm and trusting relationship with her son.  The TV channel that he worked for “Rossiya-1”, had sent him on assignment to Luhansk in May of 2014.   She had begged him not to go.  He said he couldn’t say no this assignment, and told her not to worry.  However, on 17 June, she learned about the death of her son.

[yalensis:  This apparently ends the introductory victimology portion of the trial, in which the judges become acquainted with the suffering of the victims of the alleged crime.]

12:00 – The Prosecutors provide page numbers and documentation of the rest of the evidence they plan to present for the remainder of their case.

12:10 – Defense Attorneys Novikov, Polozov and Feygin request a recess, in order to study this documentation.  Prosecution does not object.

12:13 – Judges agree, and court is recessed until 14:00.

[Case continues after lunch recess.]

14:27 – Court is back in session.  Once again, the judges scold the attorneys for their tardiness.

14:31 – Defense attorneys request more time to study the Prosecution case.  Judge declines their request and permits Prosecution to begin to present their case.

14:35 – However, the Prosecution, instead, starts to question another “victim” witness, this time a Ukrainian named Ivan Chumakov, who is videoconferencing in from Basmanny Court in Moscow.  This victim tells the same story as the others, about the shelling of the apartment building on 17 June 2014.

14:46 – After the shelling of the building, Chumakov, along with his neighbors and relatives, hid out in the basement for a while, then all went together, as a group, to the police checkpoint, where they again came under fire.

14:51 – Chumakov, who is a young man, told about the (Separatist) militiamen, who were wounded, which he saw with his own eyes.

And about the camera journalist from the TV channel, who joined up with the group from te apartment building and accompanied them on the road, while also filming them.  Chumakov narrated, that he heard exactly five explosions, after which a man ran up to them, introducing himself as the camera journalist.  “As far as I recall, the man introduced himself as from “All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company” [I’ll call it by abbreviation ARSTRBC – in Russian ВГТРК], and, given the chaos around us, he just said that he would be shooting coverage.  That’s all he said,” according to Chumakov.

15:00 – Just like the other victimology witnesses from Luhansk, Chumakov does not adduce any further details, including how the journalists perished.

15:20 – Chumakov describes the layout of the basement of the building in which the refugees hid, the layout of the road to Luhansk, and also about the sound he heard, which accompanied the shelling.  There was a characteristic whistle, which indicated that the shelling was done via mine-launchers.  Later in the day, Chumakov saw the video on the internet, which the ARSTRBC camera journalist had taped.

Novikov makes a motion to watch said video in court.  Chumakov responds that he does not like to recall what happened, that “he left this all behind him”.  The Prosecutor objects to the showing of the video, and the Judge sustains the objection.

Novikov cross-examines the witness, to get a sense of his political opinions:  “Did you say that nationalists came to power in Kiev?”

“Yes, yes.  I said that.  In my understanding of the situation, I completely believe, that the government was overthrown, that nationalists came to power, the way they see the world:  the Russian language is not a language, and the people of Donbass are not people.”

Those are the same words uttered yesterday by the women “victim” witnesses.  Which Novikov sarcastically says proves, that all these victim testimonies are xerox copies of each other; that the Investigator wrote them up in a script; and simply asked the witnesses to copy them down faithfully.  Which they did.

15:47 – A bit of a spat between (Defense Attorney) Polozov and the Prosecutor.  The latter objected to the tone of the cross-examination of Chumakov.  Polozov appealed to the Presiding Judge, to “allow me to get my work done”, and asked the Judge to rebuke the Prosecutor.  The Judge agreed with Polozov:  “That is a fair comment.  But I am also warning you [to behave properly].”

15:59 – Defense Attorney Novikov  cross-examines Chumakov.  Can he explain the fact that he used the same (political) phraseology as the other victims?

The prisoner Savchenko shouts from inside her cage:  “Because the Investigator told them to say that!”

Presiding Judge to prisoner:  “Defendant, I am warning you.”

Judge orders to delete Novikov’s last question from the record.

16:03 – Novikov, turning back to the witness, remarks that he (=Novikov) does not have anything against him (=Chumakov), but nonetheless is requesting that his testimony be deleted, and that he be excluded as a witness.  (Which is the same motion that he made for the other victims.)

“Do you agree with the Defense motion to exclude you as a victim?”  the Presiding Judge asks Chumakov.

The witness does not respond.

“Did you understand the question?”

Again silence, and Judge repeats question for the third time.  Chumakov finally responds:  “No, I do not agree.”

16:30 – Chumakov is still on the stand.  The Defendant Savchenko questions him.  She gets into details, asks him how much time passed between the explosions, which occurred on 17 June.  She prompts him by doing her own sound effects:  “Like this?  ba-bak ba-bak ?”

Chumakov replies, that there were a series of explosions.

“Thank you for finally telling the truth!” Savchenko exclaims sarcastically.  She gets a piece of paper, draws a picture of a mine, and of an artillery shell, and asks the witness to guess which is which.

“The mine is on the left, the shell is on the right,” Chumakov guesses.

Savchenko tells him that he is mistaken.

16:47 – The witness is excused.  But now there is a new victim-witness, video-conferencing in from St. Petersburg.

16:57 – The witness is named Gennady Talolaev.  His story is the same as the others:  the apartment basement, walking to the checkpoint, meeting up with the militiamen, the explsions going off around them.  Talolaev was helping a wounded militiaman, when the camera journalist Denisov joined them.

17:01 – The connection from St. Petersburg is not good.  It is very difficult to hear the witness.

17:10 – Talolaev recounts, how one of the militiamen at the checkpost was wounded in the arm.

17:16 – The Prosecutors have finished their questioning (of this witness).  Defense Attorney Novikov begins the cross-examination.  He tries to get Talolaev to clarify, who exactly was with him in the cellar, who joined them on the road,  who was near him at the time of the explosions, how many militiamen did he see, etc.  Wants to know in detail, when he heard the first explosion, when he heard the other explosions, what were his sensations, etc.

“A short whistle,” Talolaev recalls.

17:23 – “After you gave first aid to the militiaman, what happened then?”  Talolaev recalls how the cameraman Denisov joined the group.  While all this was going on, Talolaev had lost sight of his (Talolaev’s) wife and daughter.

17:25 – Polozov cross-examines the witness.  Meanwhile, Novikov has gone up to the cage to confer with his client, Savchenko.  She is gesticulating with her hands, waving some papers and trying to show him something.  [yalensis:  probably the drawings she made of the mine and shell?]

17:28 – Traditional question to the witness:  What is his citizenship?  Traditional answer:  Ukrainian.  And just like the others, this Ukrainian citizen did not turn to the police organs of his own country.  Like the others, he was sought out by only Russian investigators.

17:34 – The witness is asked when he gave preliminary testimony.  Talolaev does not recall.  The videolink suddenly disconnects.

17:35 – The videolink is restored, but Talolaev is no longer there.  There is consternation in the Donetsk court.

17:50 – An important moment (in the testimony).  There are discrepancies in the stories of the witnesses.  The other witnesses spoke of encountering just one (Separatist) militiaman at the checkpoint.  Talolaev had spoken of 20-25 militiamen.

17:55 – In light of these discrepancies in the oral testimony in court today,  the Prosecution requests that the preliminary testimony of the witness (Talolaev) be read aloud to the court.

18:27[yalensis:  This part is confusing, because it appears that Talolaev is back on the videolink, but they did not specifically state that fact] – Talolaev confirms his written testimony.  Defense Attorney Novikov wants to know, did the investigator arrive at his (Talolaev’s) St. Petersburg flat with a printer and a computer?  (because Talolaev had remarked that he lives in Petersburg now and was questioned in his apartment).  If the answer is no, then how did Talolaev sign his statement?  Talolaev has difficulty answering the question.  And again the videolink breaks down.

18:30 – Donetsk court recesses until tomorrow, 11:00 AM.

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