Associated Press: Savchenko calls for early elections in Ukraine
Ukrainian pilot and MP Nadia Savchenko on Friday called for early parliamentary elections to "infuse fresh blood" into Ukraine's politics, a call that could send shock waves across the volatile nation.
Savchenko, 35, who has become a national icon in Ukraine after spending two years in a Russian prison, told The Associated Press that the "Ukrainian people deserve a better government that they now have."
She said that the Ukrainian government has failed public expectations raised by the ouster of the country's former Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven from power in February 2014 after months of massive street protests on Kiev's main square, the Maidan.
"The longer this dishonorable government leads us, the further back toward a precipice it will drive us," Savchenko said, speaking with emphasis. "People believed in it after the Maidan; they gave a big credit of trust to the government, which it has failed."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his allies in the ruling parliament coalition strongly oppose early elections, arguing that they would only foment instability and deepen the country's economic crisis. With the popularity of Poroshenko and his coalition partners sinking amid economic troubles, an early vote would likely leave them with far fewer seats in parliament.
"This government is sinking like the Titanic," she said. "The more people see that this government is hurting them, the quicker they will ask it to step down."
Read alsoSavchenko: "Ready to talk with enemy and friend" for release of hostagesSavchenko voiced hope that voters next time will make a more thoughtful choice and won't sell their votes.
She didn't say when she thinks the early parliamentary election should be held, and described her relationship with Poroshenko as "business-like."
Savchenko told the AP that the U.S. and its allies should exert more pressure on Russia to make it honor a Ukraine peace deal to avert what she described as the danger of another world war over Ukraine. She spoke about Ukraine as the last frontier protecting Europe from Russia's "imperial tyranny."
"The international community must show Russia its place," Savchenko said. "If it doesn't happen, Russia will show its ambitions to the international community, and it may slide into a third world war."
At the same time, Savchenko said she believes it's possible to hold talks with separatist leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky. "If there are no such talks, we will never have peace on our Ukrainian land," Savchenko said, adding that the withdrawal of Russian soldiers and the sealing of Ukraine's border with Russia must precede such negotiations.
She also argued that rebels who haven't committed war crimes could be amnestied.
"It won't refer to looters, brutal killers or rapists who broke the boundaries of humanity," she said. "Some people have fallen under the spell of the Russian propaganda and have gone to fight for those ideas. Those people, who haven't crossed the boundary, naturally should be amnestied."
"We must learn to forgive, otherwise we won't be able to exist as a single country," Savchenko added.