Russian amnesty could free Pussy Riot, not Khodorkovsky

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 02:08

Moscow: Two jailed Pussy Riot members could be freed early under a general amnesty backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin but anti-Kremlin ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is unlikely to benefit, according to a draft bill published on Tuesday.
Far from being freed early under the amnesty, Khodorkovsky risks a third trial that could keep him in prison beyond his August 2014 release date after prosecutors revealed he was being investigated on new charges.

The Russian parliament today published a draft proposal for a prison amnesty that would include Pussy Riot`s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, albeit just three months before their two-year sentences end.

The proposal does not list specific cases but says it applies to those convicted or charged with certain more minor offences such as hooliganism.

The Pussy Riot activists were convicted of hooliganism for a protest against Putin in a church. They could qualify for the amnesty on another count because both have young children. They are due to be freed in March after being refused parole several times.

They could still be excluded from the amnesty if courts rule that they committed serious breaches of rules in their penal camps, however.

The 30 Greenpeace crew members from 19 countries who have been bailed on hooliganism charges over a protest against Arctic energy drilling could be allowed to leave Russia after their case raised international concerns.

Greenpeace cautioned against being too optimistic, saying on Twitter: "Media reports on amnesty are all speculation until confirmed by Russian parliament."

Putin submitted the amnesty bill, which means its approval by parliament should be a formality.

The bill could also cover some of the activists detained in May 2012 at a Moscow protest against Putin ahead of his inauguration for a third term.

Russia will be keen to enjoy the blaze of publicity as it hosts the Sochi Winter Games next year -- without awkward questions about the jailings of Putin`s foes.

AFP

First Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 02:08

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