March 6, 2016 / 1:37 PM / 4 years ago

Russian embassy in Kiev protests over damage to its cars: RIA

A protester attaches a Ukrainian flag to a fence of the Russian embassy during a rally demanding liberation of Ukrainian army pilot Nadezhda Savchenko by Russia, in Kiev, Ukraine, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - Russia’s embassy in Kiev sent a note of protest to Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Sunday about attacks on the embassy’s cars, the RIA news agency quoted embassy spokesman Oleg Grishin as saying.

Grishin said three cars parked outside the embassy were “seriously damaged” overnight by a group of unidentified people who also threw flares and smoke flares to the embassy.

Kiev police said it had started a criminal investigation into the case which it preliminarily described as hooliganism.

“At night ... unidentified people started smashing parked cars, so a total of three vehicles were damaged: mirrors and the glass had been shattered,” the police said in a statement.

A video with a slogan “Freedom to Nadia Savchenko” and footage of few men smashing cars in darkness appeared on the Internet, while hundreds of people have massed near the embassy in Ukraine’s capital on Sunday with similar slogans.

Protesters have urged Moscow to free Nadezhda (Nadia) Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot on trial in Russia on charges of complicity in the killing of two Russian journalists.

Savchenko, 34, was captured by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine in June 2014. She denies any wrongdoing.

Last Thursday she went on hunger strike to protest against the length of what she said was an unjust legal process after the judge in her trial adjourned proceedings just as she was about to deliver her final speech.

The helicopter pilot, who faces up to 25 years in jail if found guilty, has become a national hero for many in Ukraine who see her as a symbol of anti-Kremlin defiance.

Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Mark Potter

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