Nadezhda Savchenko, a member of the Fatherland faction, opened the morning session of the Ukrainian Parliament by delivering a short but emotionally charged speech to an audience of 341 MPs.
Savchenko entered the session hall carrying a Ukrainian flag slung over his shoulder and holding a small Crimean Tatar flag in her hand.
“May 25 will go down in history as a day on which Ukraine’s hero Nadezhda Savchenko regained her freedom. Today, we have the honor of welcoming the hero of Ukraine in this room,” said Andrei Parubiy, Parliament’s Speaker, before giving the floor to Nadezhda Savchenko.
“I am back and eager to go back to work. I would like to thank all of the Ukrainians, who fought for my sake, and everyone abroad, who helped the truth be heard. I apologize to Vadim Pugachev’s mother for the fact that I'm alive while her son is dead.
I will not let you forget about those who laid down their lives for Ukraine. They are not in their graves now but are defending our country with us and will be until we regain Ukraine’s freedom. The people will not let us sit in these chairs, if we keep betraying them,” Savchenko said.
Concluding her speech, Savchenko sang the national anthem, making everyone in the session hall stand up. After that, the MP took down a poster with her face from the rostrum, replacing it with one depicting Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars illegally jailed in Crimea and Russia.
“I am replacing the poster with one representing guys fighting for Ukraine’s freedom. From now on, they will be looking into your eyes,” she said.
It was reported earlier that Ukrainian Air Force pilot Nadezhda Savchenko was exchanged for Evgeniy Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov, two Russian special service officers. Nadezhda spent almost two years being jailed in a Russian prison. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko awarded Nadezhda Savchenko with the Hero of Ukraine medal.