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Leaked: Pussy Riot, Greenpeace activists will be freed under amnesty

Published time: December 09, 2013 15:51
Edited time: December 10, 2013 00:10
Honorary President of non-profit organisation ATTAC, Susan George (Center L), holds a sign bearing the portrait of a jailed Greenpeace activist alongside other protesters taking part in a demonstration calling for the release of a group of Greenpeace activists imprisoned in Russia, on October 31, 2013, in Paris. (AFP Photo / Pierre Andrieu)

Honorary President of non-profit organisation ATTAC, Susan George (Center L), holds a sign bearing the portrait of a jailed Greenpeace activist alongside other protesters taking part in a demonstration calling for the release of a group of Greenpeace activists imprisoned in Russia, on October 31, 2013, in Paris. (AFP Photo / Pierre Andrieu)

The members of the Pussy Riot punk band, Greenpeace activists and protesters jailed after the May 2012 Bolotnaya demonstration will be freed in an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, Russian media report.

A total of 25,000 people will be freed under the amnesty initiated by President Putin, Interfax cited Vladimir Vasilyev, deputy speaker of parliament, as saying.

“Around 1,300 people will be released from prison, and 17,500 people will be relieved of non-custodial sentences. In addition, criminal proceedings against nearly 6,000 can be terminated,” Vasilyev said.

Several Russian media outlets including Izvestia and Vedomosti newspapers have obtained a copy of the draft amnesty, which was submitted to the parliament by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

According to the papers, the participants in such high-profile cases as the Pussy Riot Cathedral protest, Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise boarding of an oil rig and the Bolotnaya Square riots will all be granted amnesty.

The upcoming amnesty won’t apply to those who committed crimes that posed a serious danger to society, Vladimir Vasilyev said, adding that the amnesty will give preference to convicts in vulnerable social categories and people who have served the country.

It will favor all minors, mothers with small children, pregnant women, women over 55 and men over 60, the disabled, Chernobyl cleanup workers and military veterans, he said.

According to Vedomosti newspaper, the draft amnesty covers three articles of the criminal code “as an exception,” which means that those, who were convicted under them, will be freed or relived from punishment regardless of age, sex and social status.

The members of the Pussy Riot punk band Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova during the announcement of the verdict on their case at Moscow's Khamovniki Court (RIA Novosti / Aleksandr Utkin)

The first such article Number 213 is “hooliganism”, which means that two Pussy Riot members – Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – as well as the Greenpeace’s activists, awaiting trial in Russia, will a get pardon.

Three members of the Pussy Riot punk band were each sentenced to two years in prison after staging a protest in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, although one member of the band was later released on appeal.

The 30 Greenpeace activists are currently on bail and awaiting trial after an attempt to board Russia’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea this September.

The second exception stands for article 212 (parts 2 and 3) - "participation in riots and attempts to incite rioting."

It means that nine protesters, who were detained following Moscow riots on Bolotnaya Square in May 2012, but who are not accused of using force against police, will be also freed under amnesty, according to Vedomosti.

The third exception deals with those, who were convicted for violating traffic regulation with severe consequences to people’s health.

Meanwhile, those, who committed economic crimes, won’t be pardoned as there has already been an amnesty for this category of prisoners earlier this year, with 1,431 people released, Izvestia said.

This means that former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, will remain behind bars.

The amnesty will be adopted before the end of the year and implemented within the next six months, a high-ranked source in the parliament told Izvestia.

Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace's Arctic protest ship (AFP Photo / Denis Sinyakov)

Russia celebrates the 20th anniversary of the country’s Constitution on December 12.

The head of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, Mikhail Fedotov, expressed his satisfaction with the draft amnesty bill and said hoped it wouldn't suffer heavy revisions by the Duma deputies.

“I’m sure that there’ll be some MPs, who’ll try to widen the amnesty bill and those, who’ll push for it to be narrowed. In the end, I hope that it’ll remain as it was when submitted by the President,” he told RIA-Novosti news agency.

But one of the heads of Memorial human rights center, Oleg Orlov, has called the draft amnesty bill a disappointment.

“Even in its current form, I welcome the document. At least, some people will be released,” he told Interfax news agency. “But that part of Russian society, which advocated an amnesty, understand it in a broader sense, and of course we are disappointed."

President Putin tasked human rights activists with putting together a draft bill for an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the country’s modern Constitution in late September.

In mid-October, the draft bill, which proposed to pardon around 100,000 prisoners, was approved by the Presidential Council for Human Rights.

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