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Russia Expected to Find Ukrainian Pilot Guilty in Journalists' Killings

Nadiya Savchenko is seen in a glass cage during court proceedings against her in the town of Donetsk, in Russia's Rostov-on-Don region, March 21, 2016.

A Russian court is expected to find a Ukrainian pilot guilty in the 2014 killing of two Russian journalists in war-torn Ukraine.

The trial of Nadiya Savchenko has been internationally condemned as a political sham. She is set to be sentenced Tuesday after the court hands down its decision.

In an interview with VOA on the eve of the verdict, Savchenko's lawyer, Mark Feygin said despite evidence proving her innocence, conviction was a foregone conclusion.

Prosecutors have demanded a 23-year prison sentence for the pilot who says she was kidnapped at the height of the fighting in Ukraine and turned over to Russian officials to face charges.

Her lawyer said, "There is no such thing as an acquittal in politically motivated cases. It simply does not exist. Russia's government is an authoritarian system and the courts are part of that system."

"It is an illusion is to think that the judge, based on the sum of evidence, could give an acquittal," said Feygin.

Savchenko, who has denied all charges against her, has become a national hero in Ukraine where she was elected to parliament in absentia.

She has maintained a defiant stance throughout the trial, often raising her middle finger. She has also been on several hunger strikes.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said he will do "everything possible" to free her.

The European Union and U.S. President Barack Obama have called for Savchenko's immediate release. Russian officials have dismissed such calls as attempts to interfere with the country's internal affairs.

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