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Putin to meet human rights activists next week to discuss amnesty

December 06, 2013, 12:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The meeting will have a free discussion format

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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Klimentyev

MOSCOW, December 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting with human rights activists next week, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told Itar-Tass.

“Yes, such a meeting is planned indeed,” he said. “As always, it will have a free discussion format. Amnesty issues may also be touched upon in it.”

On December 4, the Russian president held a meeting in Novo-Ogaryovo with Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin and head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov. The human rights activists presented to Putin a draft bill on granting amnesty to the country’s prisoners in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution that will be celebrated on December 12.

The head of state said then that he on the whole agreed with the amnesty proposals, but gave instructions “to improve the document (amnesty draft) with members of the State Duma” lower house of parliament. “It is necessary to make a balanced decision, but certainly aimed at humanization of the law enforcement practice,” he said.

“Amnesty may be granted only to the persons who had not committed grave crimes and violent crimes against representatives of the authorities, first of all, law enforcement agencies,” Putin emphasized.

“The amnesty will be submitted by the president,” Peskov said then. “It will be finalized in the coming days, including on the results of the meeting (of Putin with the head of the Human Rights Council and human rights commissioner.”

As the amnesty is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of Russia, it would be logical to assume that the draft resolution will be submitted to the State Duma for consideration before December 12, although the Kremlin has not specified the timeframe, saying that the document would be submitted to the lower house after finalization.

In the view of human rights defenders, amnesty might be granted to some 100,000 prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin believes that it would be “premature, hasty and inappropriate” to speak about who might be released under the amnesty. “Obviously, there is the common agreement with the idea that amnesty might be granted to those who had not committed violent crimes,” Peskov stressed. However, he noted, “it would be totally premature to specify the names of that or other persons who might be eligible for amnesty.

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