Russian court orders Ukrainian pilot tried in border town

AP News
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Posted: Aug 21, 2015 7:17 AM

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court on Friday rejected a defense plea to move a high-profile trial of a Ukrainian officer to Moscow.

Nadezhda Savchenko's lawyers feared that a trial held far from the Russian capital would not generate enough publicity around her case.

The Rostov-on-Don regional court ruled that military pilot Savchenko, who is charged in the deaths of two Russian journalists, should be tried in a small Russian border town just a few miles away from Ukraine.

Russian investigators allege that Savchenko, who served in a volunteer battalion in eastern Ukraine where Ukrainian forces were fighting Russia-backed rebels, provided the coordinates for a mortar attack that killed the journalists last summer.

Savchenko, whose lawyers say was captured by the rebels and smuggled across the border into Russia, has become a poster child for Ukrainians fighting the separatists. Top Ukrainian officials have been campaigning for her release.

Savchenko's lawyer Mark Feygin tweeted that he viewed Friday's ruling as an indication that she would be convicted but later possibly exchanged for a Russian in Ukrainian custody.

Kiev claims to have captured two Russian intelligence officers operating in eastern Ukraine. Russia insists the men had resigned first before going to war.