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In Russian court, Ukrainian pilot Savchenko raises middle finger at judge

Hunger-striking Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko on Wednesday told a Russian court she would continue refusing food and water and raised her middle finger at the judge and prosecution.

Ukrainian pilot-AV“I will continue my dry hunger strike if it takes more than a week to issue the judgement,” Savchenko said in her final address after raising her middle finger in a defiant gesture. The judge said the verdict will be handed down on March 21 and 22.

“Maybe I will live that long.”

Savchenko, 34, announced a hunger strike last Thursday, rejecting both food and water, after the judge unexpectedly postponed her final address in the trial over her alleged involvement in the 2014 killing of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

Refusing both food and water is known in Russia as a “dry hunger strike” and was a method of last resort for some Soviet dissidents under communism. The judge in the court in the Russian town of Donetsk said the verdict will be handed down on March 21 and 22.

Kiev on Wednesday demanded an end to the “farcical” trial and that she be released immediately.

One of her lawyers, Nikolai Polozov, said Savchenko’s health had significantly deteriorated over the past few days, adding that she was feverish and her temperature had risen to about 38-degrees celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Remember — we are playing with my life. And I will win,” Savchenko said. “The stakes are high and I have nothing to lose.”

Her lawyers said they would not be able to persuade Savchenko to halt her hunger strike unless the Russian authorities release her or at least guarantee her freedom.

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