Moscow: In keeping with what has become a yearly tradition at Christmas, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pardoned 27 convicts, serving various prison terms.
Medvedev, who has made the liberalisation of Russia`s justice system one of his priorities as president, pardoned 21 prisoners convicted of minor crimes last year.
The figure stood at 28 in 2009, the year after Medvedev replaced Vladimir Putin as the country`s president.
Putin`s presidential term saw a gradual decrease in Christmas pardons from 187 in 2003, with none being pardoned at all in 2007. In 2008, Putin`s last year as president, only one person was pardoned.
Putin`s predecessor Boris Yeltsin used to pardon thousands of convicts every year in the 1990s.
In an interview in December 2009, Medvedev criticised the severity of punishment for petty crimes routinely ordered by Russian courts. It prompted a series of amendments replacing criminal charges with administrative punishment such as fines and compulsory public works for some minor offences.