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Home News Russian amnesty could free Pussy Riot, not Khodorkovsky

Russian amnesty could free Pussy Riot, not Khodorkovsky

Published on 10/12/2013

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 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 on Tuesday 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.

Khodorkovsky, who this year marked 10 years in prison and has been convicted twice of fraud and embezzlement, does not qualify because “his sentence was for more than five years,” a lawmaker responsible for criminal legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov, told the RIA Novosti news agency.

With less than a year left to serve, Khodorkovsky now risks a further trial.

Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev warned Friday that “there are several criminal cases under investigation involving him and several other people.”

The Interfax news agency reported the new case involved money laundering.