News / Europe

Rights Adviser: Putin Could Free Khodorkovsky, Pussy Riot in Amnesty

FILE - Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina are seen in a glass cage in a court room during their trial in Moscow last year.FILE - Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina are seen in a glass cage in a court room during their trial in Moscow last year.
x
FILE - Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina are seen in a glass cage in a court room during their trial in Moscow last year.
FILE - Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina are seen in a glass cage in a court room during their trial in Moscow last year.
Reuters
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could free a former oil tycoon and members of the Pussy Riot band, all portrayed as political prisoners by domestic and foreign critics, under an amnesty expected by the end of the year, according to a Kremlin human rights adviser.
 
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who supporters say was jailed to curb a political challenge to Putin, putting his oil assets in state hands, and two Pussy Riot inmates are due for release next year. But an early discharge could help improve Putin's image before he hosts the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February.
 
Putin told his presidential human rights council in September to make suggestions for an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution in December.
 
After meeting Putin, rights council head Mikhail Fedotov told reporters he believed Khodorkovsky and two jailed Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, would be eligible for release under the amnesty.
 
“I think so,” Fedotov told reporters after the meeting. “Those are non-violent crimes.”
 
Putin has repeatedly denied anyone in Russia has been jailed for political reasons.
 
Some protesters were calling for the release of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, December 24, 2011. (VOA - Y. Weeks)Some protesters were calling for the release of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, December 24, 2011. (VOA - Y. Weeks)
x
Some protesters were calling for the release of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, December 24, 2011. (VOA - Y. Weeks)
Some protesters were calling for the release of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, December 24, 2011. (VOA - Y. Weeks)
Former Yukos oil company chief Khodorkovsky has been in jail since his arrest in 2003 and was convicted of financial crimes in two trials. In the eyes of Kremlin critics at home and abroad, his jailing is one of the main black marks on the record of Putin, who has not ruled out seeking another six-year term as president in 2018.
 
Third term clampdown
 
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are due for release in March after serving two-year sentences for an impromptu “punk prayer” protest against Putin in Russia's main cathedral in February 2012, infuriating the Russian Orthodox Church and offending many believers. Khodorkovsky is due for release in August.
 
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to name who might come under an amnesty.
 
“To speak of this now is hasty and not correct,” he told reporters at Putin's residence at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow. “Clear criteria will be determined ... in dialogue with experts and civil society.”
 
Putin's opponents are watching for signs of conciliatory gestures after what they say has been a clampdown on dissent and curtailment of freedoms since he won a third term last year despite the biggest opposition protests of his 13-year rule.
 
Putin left his intentions unclear.
 
“This amnesty can only apply to individuals who did not commit grave crimes or crimes involving violence against representatives of the authorities, by this I mean law enforcement officers,” he told Fedotov and Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.
 
“I agree with you that such actions should underscore the humanism of our state, but they certainly must not ... give anyone the impression they can commit a crime today and count on forgiveness from the state tomorrow,” Putin said.
 
Putin did not specify what he meant by grave crimes.
 
Legally, the term can apply to a broad array of crimes including those Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot were convicted of. Fedotov later told TV and Internet channel Dozhd the council's proposal would release many held for nonviolent crimes.
 
Putin's reference to law enforcement officers was seen as an instruction that the amnesty should not apply to 12 people on trial and others facing charges over violence that erupted at protests on the eve of his inauguration in May 2012.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More