Russian president agrees to pardon actress Zakharova

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will pardon actress Natalia Zakharova who is serving a three-year sentence for setting fire to her French ex-husband’s apartment after he took away their daughter, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

Zakharova, who has been fighting for custody of her daughter for more than 10 years, was convicted by a French court but was transferred to Russia to serve her sentence after the approval of a Russian request filed on the basis of the Russian-French Convention of 2003.

The actress, who is suffering from a number of illnesses, appealed to Medvedev for pardon on May 26.

“The relevant documents are being readied for the head of state to sign,” the president’s press secretary Natalya Timakova said.

The actress married Patrick Ouari in 1993 and left Russia for France. In 1995, Zakharova gave birth to a daughter, Masha, but the couple divorced soon afterward. Zakharova was initially given custody of the couple’s daughter, Marie Zakharova-Ouari, but she was put in a foster family in France in 1999 after Ouari and Zakharova accused each other of violence toward the child.

In 2004, Zakharova was deprived of her parental rights.

The actress fled to Moscow in 2006 after a French court sentenced her to three years in prison for “damaging property by life-threatening methods.”

In the same year a Russian court recognized her parental rights, but a French court upheld its decision in 2007.

Zakharova was arrested on charges of arson soon after returning to France in January 2010 to take part in court hearings on her parental rights.

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