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Oppositionists featured in May 2012 Moscow riot case may be amnestied

September 25, 2013, 17:54 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, September 25 (Itar-Tass) - Idea of amnesty of the oppositionists involved in the so-called Bolotnaya Square riot case has begun to get positive echoes not only in the ranks of Russia’s off-parliament opposition as such but also in the agencies of state power.

Pavel Krasheninnikov, the chairman of the State Duma committee for legislation spoke out in support of the prospect for amnestying the activists who took part in a riot on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square May 6, 2012. President Vladimir Putin made it clear somewhat earlier an amnesty for the oppositionists was not ruled out.

Bolotnaya Square riot case features 27 people who have been charged with mass rioting and violence targeting the police. The criminal case was instituted on the grounds of clashes May 6, 2012, between the forces of law and order and demonstrators on Bolotnaya Square, which is located almost literally in a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. Members of the radical political opposition believe the case is a political one.

A notable functionary of the ruling United Russia party who spoke to the Moscow Echo radio said the idea of pardoning the people who had taken part in the May 6 riot was a correct and objective idea.

“That’s an issue we should work on because it has a high demand in society,” Krasheninnikov said on his part. He indicated that the Duma planned to begin as early as in October the scrutiny of the lists of people who were aspiring to being pardoned.

At present, there are nine proposals on an amnesty bill the MPs will be expected to scrutinize all of them, he said.

President Putin said at a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club September 19 that an amnesty of the oppositionist activists featured in the highly resounding riot case was not ruled out. “Can we in this instance look at the situation from the angle of a possible amnesty? “ he said. “I can’t rule it out. But this case calls for a most serious consideration, as all the legal procedures should be brought to their logical legal completion.”

“There is no way in which appeals for beating up and inflicting bodily damage on policemen could be admissible,” Putin said.

According to Krasheninnikov, amnesty can be implemented in the process of discussion of the draft bills that have already been submitted to the Duma. “We agreed to consider all the nine versions of an amnesty document in October and we’ll see then whether we’ll merge all of them into one or text or draft something new,” he said.

Krashennikov stressed a fair opportunity for an amnesty -- not only for the May 6 riot participants but also for the entire spectrum of individuals who are not posing public danger -- opened up by the 20th anniversary since the adoption of Russia’s effective Constitution.

Communist Party of the Russian Federation /CPRF/ was the first one to submit a bill on amnesty timed for the anniversary. The document they submitted in spring proposed to relieve of criminal liability all the individuals who committed socially challenging actions in the course of demonstrations in the area of Bolotnaya Square in Moscow May 6, 2012, and to stop the investigation as such. The CPRF did not make any proposals to set other convicts free.

One more version of the bill is being designed by the Presidential Council for Human Rights. Its concept was presented to Putin at the last session of the body and he did not reject it, Council member Sergei Pashin told the Vedomosti newspaper. He said that human rights activists were considering the possibility of a maximally broad amnesty that would embrace first and foremost the convicts serving terms for nonviolent crime who would pose any danger for society. From the formal point of view, the activists charged with offenses under the Bolotnaya Square riot case do not fall into this category, as they are accused of organizing mass disorders and this offense falls into the category of heinous ones.

Still, no one puts up obstacles to including the convicts and defendants in the amnesty act, Pashin said.

In the meantime, another two defendants featured in the riot case filed petitions with the European Court for Human Rights. The petitions contain complaints over encroachments on the right of a defendant to be secured against inhumane and humiliating treatment, as well as the rights to freedom and personal immunity, and the right to be released before trial.

A group seven people involved in the Bolotnaya Square riot investigation filed the first complaints two months ago. The European Court pulled them into a single case and fast-tracked its consideration.

Nezavissimaya Gazeta says it was an active engagement of the Strasbourg Court in the investigation of the high-profile riot that motivated the Russian authorities to agree to a possible amnesty for the rioters.

Vadim Solovyov, the chief of the CPRF legal service said that the so-called zero option, which would be face-saving for the authorities, was quite possible. “I can say with a big measure of confidence this will be a resolution on an amnesty on conventional criminal cases and it will cover Article 212 of the Criminal Code on mass riots, too.”

Solovyov believes that the Duma will most likely pass the resolution. He added that legislation does not forbid a release of those pending trial and everything will depend on how the Duma will formulate the text. But the people immediately involved in the trials are still experiencing the impression from Putin’s words about the forthcoming completion of all the procedures.

Igor Bunin, the Director General of the Center for Political Technologies told Nezavissimaya Gazeta that the Bolotnaya Square riot case had been knocked up as a lesson with an understatement that there can be no opposing policemen on the street. He said that although a finish line of the whole affair was nowhere in sight yet, Putin’s speech contained a hint that he would like to ease up tensions of the fight.

“Quite possibly, some more people will be released on the conditions of house arrest or some other concessions will be given,” he said.

“The government feels now it’s overshot the mark and it’s trying to rectify the errors now,” political scientist Valery Khomyakov, who is a member of the Council for National Strategy told Itar-Tass, told Itar-Tass. He said one could clearly sense a willingness to scale the tensions down in the wake of the petitions accepted by the Strasbourg Court and in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics.

That is why the oppositionists featured in the riot case might be released on the conditions of house arrest and or might get suspended sentences, Khomyakov said.