Nadiya Savchenko was a pilot, a prisoner, a near-martyr, and in the eyes of some Ukrainians, she's become a saint. But there's more to her than that. An exclusive interview.”>

KIEV Nadezhda Savchenko, who was until a few days ago a famous Russian captive and is now a fledgling Ukrainian legislator, has a soldiers haircut trimmed into boyish bangs, and one might easily be reminded of some old movie about Joan of Arc, a young lady out to save her country when men have failed.

Indeed, the analogy between the Ukrainian pilot and the Medieval French peasant girl who became an armor-clad saint has become something of a clich, and an image Savchenko is cultivating. But her vocabulary, her garb, and her ways also bespeak her decade in Ukraines military.

During our exclusive interview, she kept both thumbs hooked into her front pocketsbroad shoulders opened, chin pulled up, her strong posture calm and stable, and her blue eyes appearing right mine as she said, I am ready for a bloody fight. I am ready to die for Ukraine.

Many Ukrainians, having expended the last two years watching television news about Savchenko on trial in Russia on improbable assassination charges, or insuring images of hunger-striking Savchenko starving herself to near-death in jail, greeted the pilots freedom gained in a prisoner exchange with rapturous celebration.

Her fans believe that Savchenkothis heroic woman, this emerging superstar in the political firmamentis someone who eventually offers hope for their troubled country. And she doesnt seem reluctant to answer their call.

Ukrainians, if you are willing to to be your chairwoman, I will become the president, she declared upon her return from Russia.

Instead of sleeping in at home or lying in the sunshine on the sandy beach of the Dnipro River, 35 -year-old Savchenkoelected a member of parliament while she was in prisonhas been meeting with officers, making public statements, speaking at press conferences, and building up her team.

Coffee and cigarettes keep her going, she joked. Even in her pink shirt, tucked in at the front and hanging over her jeans at the back, Savchenko appeared pale and tired. I switched on all my inner reserves during the Crimea crisis and I still have not switched myself off since then, she told The Daily Beast.

Less than a week has passed since Savchenkos release from prison and the new Rada deputy already is shaming the entire Ukrainian parliament, calling the deputies to confess their sins: You are all on the Titanic in this parliament, just so you know, Savchenko proclaimed from the Radas tribune.

I am surrounded with business sharks and political sharks appear, I am little now, but after awhile, I will grow into a huge shark, too, Savchenko told The Daily Beast impulsively. I am not a politician, yet, I am feeling a terrible, constant ache for my country, for dying soldiers, she said, speaking very quickly. So psychologists want me to stop feeling ache, but if I do, I will become the same as all of them, the real politicians.

From her childhood, Savchenko had many ambitions. As a teen, she loved to read Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach( most well known for Jonathan Livingston Seagull ), and she loved to perform on stage.

Nadiya, as shes called, analyse to be a designer, then a journalist, but her dreamings of airliners trumped all the rest. By her mid-2 0s, Savchenko was a qualified paratrooper. Her resum included more than one hundred hours of piloting, dozens of parachute jumps and several months of service in Ukraines contingent as part of the coalition of the willing in the war in Iraq. In a 2011 documentary about her as the first girl pilot in Ukraines air force, Savchenko can be seen operating with a heavy backpack right alongside her male counterparts.

The only two systems she knew well, Savchenko joked, were the army and prison.

Of course she is not a politician, yet, veteran television anchor Savik Shuster told The Daily Beast. Starting with the Maidan revolution[ in late 2013 ], their own lives was in turmoil: first she was fighting on the front, then she got kidnapped, she served time in prison, stood trial and currently she an MP voting against changes in the constitution.

In all of this, there are elements of theater, which remains a passion. Savchenko said about her new life in the spotlight: The stage is nothing new for me. I have never been shy before cameras or big crowds.

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