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Nadiya Savchenko talks about her plans, the war, Russia and a future career in politics

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Nadiya Savchenko stands outside the Palace of Ukraine during her press conference in Kyiv on May 27.

Military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has returned to Ukraine after almost two years in Russian captivity, held her first press conference at the National Palace Ukraine in Kyiv on May 27, two days after she was exchanged for two Russian Military Intelligence officers, Alexandr Alexandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeev. Dozens of journalists, politicians, activists and Savchenko’s family came to listen to her.During her speech, Savchenko was calmer than after her arrival at Kyiv Boryspil Airport on May 25. When she arrived at the airport she asked journalists to stand back, and said she needed to get used to people after spending a long time alone in a Russian prison cell. Here are Savchenko’s main quotes from the press conference:

Politics

“If Ukrainians want me to be a president, well… I will be a
president and will do my best. I don’t actually want it (to be president), I
love to fly.”

“All those big names of our politicians don’t mean anything
to me. I wasn’t interested in politics until I became the politician myself.”

“I want to say to you that I don’t yearn for power. I just will do my best to make positive
changes. I will make mistakes. But don’t be afraid and don’t hate me. Trust me!
That’s all I ask. It’s hard to satisfy
everyone. And I don’t want to be good for bad people.”

“I will work to release all of our prisoners and to regain all of our occupied territories. I can lay down my life for country on the war front, I
can do that. I know how. But I need to learn how to do the same at the legislative
level.”

Prisoner’s exchange process and Minsk agreements

“I don’t exactly know what had happened and how I managed to
get back to Ukraine. When they kidnapped me, they grabbed me and put in the car with
a sack on my head. The same thing happened when I managed to get free.”

“In the middle of the night they came to my cell, ordered me to
pack my bags and be prepared. I didn’t
know where they would take me – to Siberia or to Ukraine. I was sitting in a
police van for five hours, waiting. I heard that I was at the airport, heard the
planes. But I didn’t know where I was going.”

“The most important thing for a person is freedom. For all the political prisoners who still remain
in Russia, and for their friends and family, freedom is the most desirable.”

“To save all our men from Russian prison, I will stop at
nothing. I’m ready to negotiate even with the devil if that helps. Some people
say we shouldn’t negotiate with separatists. I don’t think so. I will talk with
everybody. It doesn’t mean that I have good relations with the men I shake
hands with.”

“I won’t say I see the effectiveness of the Minsk
agreements. At least they stopped the fire
of war a little bit. I want to thanks
people for starting to think before pulling the trigger.”

“About the elections in the Donbas. You can respect an
enemy. You can respect an enemy as a warrior, who fights for his or her beliefs,
even if they are different. We can talk about elections, but before that we must
close our borders and throw all these so-called advisers away. Ukrainians will
tackle their problems on their-own,”

Life

“I want to walk on my beloved Kyiv streets and enjoy my
favorite and native neighborhood Troeschyna (on the left bank of the Dnipro River) as I
always did. I see people’s reaction to me. But I am not ready for close
contact. Please, just talk and smile to
me. Don’t choke me with your love, I’m begging you,”

“Now people rush up to me with flowers and kisses, make those stupid selfies to prove to their friends that they actually saw the real Savchenko.
For others it’s enough just to say thank you,”

“By tomorrow all these greetings could turn into stones, and spitting at my back,”

Russia

“Russians say that by taking Crimea from Ukraine, they’ve
restored historical justice. Well, let’s then do the same by slicing up
Russian territories and giving them back to the countries that used to own them. That’s the same logic,”

“Russia did a horrible thing — it broke international
rules,”

“Crimea could be returned — if World War III happens,”

“Russia sees only two countries in the world: the United States
and Russian Federation. The other countries are just fields of their
interests,

To Vladimir Putin

“Get out of Ukraine! Be the good czar in your kingdom (Russia), and don’t humiliate your people.”

— Veronika Melkozerova, melkozerova@kyivpost.com

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