Former 16-year KGB officer, former Prime Minister, and now currently president of Russia, Vladimir Putin – in what the world is exclaiming to be a great advance for Russia – has announced that he will be on a pardoning spree, freeing many incarcerated in the Russian prison system.
Over the past few months there have been cry’s and outrages from locally and international communities calling for the release of many jailed prisoners by the Russian government. Less we forget the 3 punk band Pussy Riot members, the 30 Greenpeace activists, Bolotnaya Swuare rioters and incarcerated oil mogul Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In a shock that hit yesterday when Russia’s leader Putin, has announced a new bill that will be pardoning the aforementioned prisoners under an Amnesty bill. RT, Izvestia & Vedonsti are reporting that 25,000 people will be freed under the new bill that Putin announced in front of reporters today. However, under 10 percent will be released from prison and the rest will be relieved of non-custodial sentences (fines, house arrest, treatment programs) and approximately 6,000 criminal proceedings will come to an end. This is a huge step forward for Russia, a country known for their brutal and intolerant judicial system.
With Putin being on a pardoning spree, he has made it clear that he will not be pardoning dangerous offenders. The Russian President has told officials that the upcoming amnesty will not in any way pertain to criminals that are in danger of harming the public. The Amnesty will be favourable to: minors, mothers with small children, pregnant women, women over 55, men over 60. Russian writer Vladimir Vasilyev was quoted “the amnesty will give preference to convicts in vulnerable social categories and people who have served their country.” Many are praising this bill after pressure and general dislike from abroad.
This is not the first time Putin has done amnesty; earlier this year those convicted of economic crimes “white collar” crimes, were pardoned. A tad under 1500 were given a pardon. This is just in time for 20th anniversary of the countries constitution as the anniversary was on December 12th. As this point the bill is still in draft — and many are extremely happy about it, however some members of the journalism community are saying that the prisoners should not get their hopes up until the bill has passed, since it has to go through other government officials and could be changed anytime in that process
There are many mixed reviews on the bill, some saying that Pussy Riot was nearing it’s jail term anyways thus meaning that this is nothing less than a publicity stunt. However, there are more positive comments than negative ones in this case – Russia has had a bad reputation for so long that it’s citizens are calling anything a victory. This may even be a way to mirror what Obama is doing; as of today he has pardoned 56 prisoners in the US. With Putin on a pardoning spree, hopefully more liberal and civil acts are to follow, Russia is after all striving to be a major world power
By Sebastian Barkovic