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Ukraine's Savchenko Addresses Parliament

  • VOA News

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, center, and lawmakers sing the national anthem during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 31, 2016. Savchenko appeared for her first session at the Ukrainian parliament after being released last week from

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, center, and lawmakers sing the national anthem during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 31, 2016. Savchenko appeared for her first session at the Ukrainian parliament after being released last week from

Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko was welcomed by parliament on Tuesday, a week after being released from two years of Russian captivity during which she herself was elected a lawmaker.

"I have returned and I will not let you forget — you, the people who sit in these armchairs in parliament - about the boys who began laying down their lives for Ukraine on Maidan Square and continue dying today in the east," she said at an emotional appearance in which she also led fellow lawmakers in singing the national anthem.

The 35-year-old was captured and taken prisoner in June 2014 after joining a volunteer battalion to fight pro-Kremlin eastern separatist insurgents. Since then, she has become regarded by many Ukrainians as a hero.

She was elected a lawmaker in 2014 while still a prisoner, but was released last week in a prisoner swap with Russia.

Savchenko, one of Ukraine's first female military pilots, was elected to the country's parliament and appointed to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during her nearly two years in captivity, fueling speculation that she might have political ambitions.

Questions involve Savchenko's relationship with Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister and leader of the Fatherland party.

Both Tymoshenko and Savchenko are known for their strong personalities. Both are outspoken and popular with the public. Tymoshenko was a symbol of political persecution under former president Viktor Yanukovych, while Savchenko is a symbol of Ukrainian resistance against the Kremlin.

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