I am using Novaya Gazeta as my source, as usual. However, today, instead of the usual blow-by-blow timeline, they produced just a normal news story, which I proceed to translate/summarize:
Nadezhda Savchenko Recognized Two of Her Kidnappers as Witnesses For the Prosecution
Today the Prosecution began to present its technical case.
The first two witnesses for the Prosecution are residents of Voronezh who appeared in the court via videoconferencing. Here is their version of the story:
The witness, Sergei Bobro: He and his friend were just driving along, they were out cruising and having a good time, their destination was the town of Boguchary (Voronezh Oblast, Russia). Later, while driving home, around 10:00 PM, near the town of Tala, while stopping at a gas station, they saw what they thought to be a man in military uniform. They went up to “him”. It turned out to be a woman. She asked them, how to get to the nearest town which had a taxi or train station. Bobro and his friend decided to drive her. The woman said her name was Nadezhda. She didn’t tell them what she was doing there, and they didn’t ask. Bobro recalls, that she asked him, in Ukrainian, if he had any cigarettes.
“After about 15 or 20 minutes, as we were approaching the town of Kantemirovka of Voronezh Oblast, we were stopped by officers of the Highway Patrol and asked to show our documents. The officer noticed that I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. He asked me to step out of the car, so that he could write me a ticket. He also asked my friend and Nadezhda to show their documents. Rudenko presented his papers, but Nadezhda told him she didn’t have her papers on her. The officer asked us where Nadezhda was from.”
Bobro and his friend (Rudenko) were allowed to drive off, but Savchenko was detained by the Highway Patrol. No force was used against her. It was only later, seeing her face on television, that Bobrov realized, that this was Nadezhda Savchenko.
According to the Prosecution’s version of what happened, Savchenko had on that day, 23 June, illegally crossed the border into Russia.
However, Savchenko herself tells a completely different, and opposite, version of the same story. According to her, for 6 days she had been in captivity (a prisoner of Separatists on the Ukrainian side of the border); this would have made it impossible for her to cross the border on her own volition. On the contrary, she was taken across the border, into Russia, by unknown persons. She was blindfolded. And the gas station (near the town of Tala) was the place where her kidnappers moved her from one vehicle into another.
Defense Attorney Ilya Novikov attempted to ask Bobrov if he had any relationship to the special services; and whether he had a criminal record. These questions were struck down, but not before Bobrov had answered in the negative.
Savchenko herself cross-examined Bobrov and asked him detailed questions, such as how long it took the Highway Patrol officer to write the ticket; what were he and Rudenko wearing at the time (“I don’t remember”), what music they were playing on the radio (“A variety”), etc.
Novikov: “Those Highway Patrol officers who stopped you, did you know them?”
Bobrov: “It’s possible they might have stopped me and given me tickets before.”
Novikov: “Did you yourself contact them, when you had Savchenko in your car?”
Next, Bobrov’s friend Rudenko took the stand. Rudenko told pretty much the same story, with a few additional details. They had just decided to drive to Boguchary, while there they spent some time in a cafe drinking coffee; on the way home they spotted Savchenko and gave her a lift, etc.
While cross-examining these two witnesses, Savchenko remarked, that both of her kidnappers were named Sergei; and that one of them understood Ukranian, the other one not. Turns out, that both Bobro and Rudenko are named Sergei, and that one of them knows a little Ukrainian. However, Savchenko never saw the faces of her kidnappers: She was blindfolded.
The next witness for the Prosecution is a man named Alexei Tertyshnikov. This is the Highway Patrolman of the town of Kantemirovka; the one who had stopped the car and ticketed them.
Tertyshnikov: “I didn’t like the way that car was driving. So I stopped them, and then I saw that the driver did not have his seat belt buckled up. I started to write them a ticket. I verified their documents. The woman wearing a uniform did not have any documents. She told me she was a citizen of Ukraine; that her name was Nadezhda Viktorovna Savchenko; and she told me that she was headed for the train station. I thought it was strange that she had no papers; all the more so, that this was a border zone. This seemed suspicious to me.”
Tertyshnikov then contacted the officer oncall. Next, an officer of the FSB named Pochechuev arrived on the scene, dressed in civilian clothes and driving his own car. Tertyshnikov handed Savchenko over to him.
(Defense Attorney) Polozov on cross-examination: “What were the driver and his friend wearing, do you remember?”
Tertyshnikov: “They were wearing clothes. Pants. Jackets. Whatever. It didn’t matter to me, since their documents were in order.”
(Defense Attorney) Novikov objects to the court: Tertyshnikov, like the previous two witnesses, is lying. “What does your protocol tell you to do, when you have to stop somebody who doesn’t have documents?”
“I don’t understand the question.”
Tertyshnikov does not recall how many FSB officers came to take Savchenko.
Savchenko herself says that Tertyshnikov used a special “white phone” to call, when one set of “kidnappers” turned her over to the second set. Defense attorneys jump onto this point, and want to ask Tertyshnikov, what color is his phone. But the judge does not allow the question.
Eventually the Presiding Judge Leonid Stepanenko rules that Tertyshnikov’s testimony is over. He warns the Defense that their continuous badgering of this witness could lead him to perjure himself.
Stepanenko: “You are asking him incorrectly formed questions. He already answered your questions. And then you keep repeating them. Are you trying to trip him up?
Novikov: “But, Your Honor, there is such a thing as a competitive trial system.”
After this bickering, the witness did clarify that there is no particular protocol for how to deal with this type of situation. He did ask the woman to identify herself. At that very time (by coincidence), Russian army was conducting something called “Operation Anaconda”, whose goal was to stop smugglers, drug dealers, and terrorists, etc.
Defense Attorneys express interest in meeting the FSB officer who arrived at the location and took Savchenko off Tertyshnikov’s hands. According to Tertyshnikov, the man was named Pochechuev. He was clean-shaven, no moustache or beard, his face was shaped like a roundish oval. In pre-trial hearing, the witness had mentioned several FSB officers; but now he insisted there was just one: Pochechuev. Asked to explain the discrepancy: “At first I thought there were several of them, but then I remembered that there was just one.”
Savchenko emits emotional outburst in court: “They treated me like a piece of cargo! I want to know, who gave the order to transport me, and who is responsible for my kidnapping!”
Eventually, Tertyshnikov is dimissed from the stand. Savchenko shoots a barb at him as he departs: “Thank you for lying!”
[Court is recessed until 6 October, 11:00 AM sharp.]