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State Duma declares amnesty to mark 20th anniversary of Russian Constitution

December 18, 2013, 18:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW
According to preliminary estimates, the amnesty should spread on about 25,000 people
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

MOSCOW, December 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The State Duma lower house of Russian parliament has approved the final reading of a resolution declaring the amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of Russian Constitution on Wednesday.

The lawmakers have voted for the main second reading of the amnesty act earlier on Wednesday, introducing several amendments in it. Then after the editing the third reading of the amnesty act was supported. As many as 446 deputies (from 450 lawmakers in the total composition of the lower house) voted for the amnesty act.

According to preliminary estimates, the amnesty should spread on about 25,000 people. Meanwhile, Russian Presidential Commissioner of Human Rights Vladimir Lukin said that about 20,000 people can be amnestied.

The most socially vulnerable categories of convicts, suspects and the accused of the crimes as well as the convicts, who have some merits to Russia, come under the effect of the amnesty act.

“The convicts, who committed the crimes being underage, the women, who have underage children, pregnant women, women aged over 55 and men aged over 60, heavily disabled people, people who participated in the cleanup of the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, servicemen, policemen, employees of the institutions and bodies of the penitentiary system and people who participated in the combat actions or the operations for the defense of the Fatherland belong to the mentioned categories,” the explanatory note to the amnesty act noted.

The amnesty will be applied only to the convicts, who were sentenced to up to five years in prison inclusively and who do not have previous convictions at the penitentiaries. The only exception is made for underage convicts, who committed their crimes aged under 16 or who served less than a half of the sentence.

 

According to the amendments introduced in the amnesty act on Wednesday, the terrorists, pedophiles, drug addicts and people who committed the office abuses with the use of violence against people are left beyond the effect of the amnesty campaign.

Article 212 Part 2 and 3 of the Russian Criminal Code envisaging a sentence for massive disorders and Article 213 for hooliganism that had been previously crossed out from the amnesty bill were included in it in the final reading. This was done for the defendants put on trial and people being under investigation to have equal rights. At first the amnesty bill suggested a release from custody for the defendants under these criminal articles only after a court verdict is pronounced, contrary to other criminal articles, under which the convicts and people being under investigation are treated in the same way. The defendants of the Bolotnaya massive disorders criminal case and the Greenpeace activists, who were the defendants in the Arctic Sunrise criminal case, come under the effect of the mentioned criminal articles within the amnesty campaign, “even if the trial takes place in a year after the amnesty is declared,” chairman of the specific parliamentary committee Pavel Krasheninnikov said. Now they will fall under the effect of the amnesty campaign even if the investigation of their cases goes on.

 

However, not all defendants of the Bolotnaya massive disorders case will be released from custody within this amnesty campaign, because the effect of the amnesty does not spread on Article 212 Part 1 that stipulates criminal responsibility for the masterminds of massive disorders.

The amnesty will also not be applied for the convicts, who committed grave crimes with the use of violence or the threat to use it, and the convicts, who blatantly violate the terms of keeping in custody.

The State Duma has the exclusive power to declare the amnesty. The amnesty act is expected to be officially made public before the end of the week and will take effect starting from this moment of time. The amnesty campaign is expected to last six months from the moment the amnesty act was published.


 


 

This is the 17th amnesty campaign and the second ‘constitutional’ amnesty. Twenty years ago, on February 23, 1994, the first State Duma began working with the declaration of the amnesty over the enactment of the new Russian Constitution in 1993 in order to attain “national conciliation, civil peace and accord.” Then 23,000 people, including the members of the State Committee of the State of Emergency (GKChP) and the convicts brought to criminal responsibility for several economic crimes under the then RSFSR Criminal Code, were set free.

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