(QHA) -

Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, told reporters in Strasbourg that the decision whether to free detained Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko would be made by a Russian court.

Speaking on January 25 after a meeting with Anne Brasseur, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Naryshkin said Savchenko "is accused of involvement in a serious crime -- the killing of two Russian journalists."

Naryshkin said, "Only an investigation, and the court can establish guilt; and if guilt is not proven, then she [Savchenko] will be freed."

On January 21, it was reported that Brasseur had appealed to Naryshkin to secure the release of Savchenko so she could attend the opening session of PACE on January 26.

Savchenko was captured by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine last June, then transferred to Russian custody the next month. In Dec 15 she launched a hunger strike to protest a decision to deny her medical attention.

QHA