Supporters of a Russian mother of seven, accused of phoning the Ukrainian embassy to warn that Russian soldiers might be heading to east Ukraine, petitioned President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to let her go home while awaiting trial for high treason.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would give consideration to the petition of nearly 20,000 signatures asking that 37-year-old Svetlana Davydova be released from custody.
Western and Ukrainian accusations that Moscow is backing pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine with arms and troops are the most sensitive issue in a conflict that has killed over 5,000 people and soured Moscow’s relations with the West.
Moscow says any Russians fighting there are volunteers and denies sending arms across the border.
Davydova was taken from her home in Vyazma, some 250 km (150 miles) west of Moscow, on Jan. 21 and is now held in Moscow.
Her husband, Anatoly Gorlov, says arrest papers show Davydova made the call after overhearing a soldier’s conversation about troops from a nearby military base being sent to Ukraine, where they were being told to wear civilian clothes.
If convicted, Davydova could face up to 20 years in jail.
Russia’s human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova asked the country’s prosecutor general and the head of the Federal Security Service on Monday to free Davydova to await trial.
“It is of particular concern that the mother… has a two-month-old baby who is breast-fed and deprived of this vital need,” Pamfilova said in a statement.
New defence lawyers for Davydova, who dismissed a representative originally appointed by the state, say the charges are groundless.
Gorlov, who says he was not allowed to see his wife since she was taken away two weeks ago, said he and Davydova’s sister had refused to make any statement to investigators on Tuesday.
“The kids are as good as they can be given the situation…They are waiting for her to come back,” he told Reuters.