Prisoners to be Freed Promptly After Russia Amnesty – Official

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian prison authorities will release inmates promptly following the new amnesty law approved by lawmakers this week, with the first likely to walk free by the end of the year, a senior prison service official said Thursday.

“The amnesty has a binding effect and does not depend on the opinion of the bodies that apply it,” said Sergei Yesipov, who heads the Federal Penitentiary Service’s department for implementing sentences. “If a person is a subject to amnesty, he or she will be released. The prison facilities are not interested in delaying the amnesty terms.”

Most prisoners will be released in a month or two, depending on them getting the necessary documents, Yesipov said. The first prisoners could be freed by the end of December, he said.

The process might take longer in a number of controversial cases, he said, without giving details. 

The amnesty, initiated in early December to mark the 20th anniversary of the nation’s constitution, will be applied to thousands of Russian prisoners – primarily retirees, invalids, women with children and pregnant women, and victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

The law will open the way to pardons for jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band and Greenpeace activists facing trial on hooliganism charges. It could also lead to the release of some activists currently facing prosecution over clashes with police at a rally in Moscow last year, ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for his third term as president.

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