Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Petersburg International Economic Forum that business amnesty would be announced shortly. The president outlined the framework of the amnesty and the timeframe for passing it. The State Duma received instructions to announce it early in July. However, the president specified rather tough requirements that those expecting amnesty must meet. It is quite possible that not 13,000 inmates as it was supposed earlier but a lot fewer will be set free.
Deputies stated their readiness to announce economic amnesty already at the end of the previous week as soon as they learned that Vladimir Putin had said at the International Economic Forum that he agreed with the idea of amnesty and asked the parliament to announce it before the summer break, the Kommersant daily writes. But representatives of the business community immediately paid attention to the fact that the president had set forth a number of conditions, the main of which is that only those who “agree and are ready to make amends to the aggrieved party” can expect it.
“Amnesty means that we find the person guilty but pardon him or her and that is why set him or her free,” the newspaper quotes the first vice president of Opora Rossii business union, Vladislav Korochkin, as saying. Korochkin does not understand how this condition can be met technically and legally. It means that now the person can expect amnesty only if he writes “some petition that he agrees to make amends”.
“There must be no damages recovery” among conditions for the amnesty, ex-vice premier and now head of the Committee for Civil Initiatives, Alexei Kudrin, believes. According to him, it is not by chance that the president spoke at the forum about the accomplished “humanization of the Russian legislation in the economic sphere”. It is these “changes in the legislation that became the motive or the cause for the amnesty,” Kudrin is confident.
“This act cannot be considered amnesty if it has already necessitated the president’s consent,” Yelena Lukyanova from the Public Chamber told the Kommersant. Under the Constitution, amnesty is “prerogative of the Duma deputies,” she reminds the readers. As for the president, the Constitution envisages a different act for him - pardon. He may pardon those who appealed to him in a written form and with a statement of repentance.
The president also ordered to make it so that “people committing really serious crimes against the state, person or property” remain in prison, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Falling under the amnesty are entrepreneurs who committed their crime for the first time and have already made amends or are ready to make amends to the aggrieved person.
Ombudsman for entrepreneurs’ rights Boris Titov explained to the newspaper that now over 13,000 people are in prison for economic crimes. However, not all of them will be set free, but “only those convicted for entrepreneurship activity, and not embezzlers of public funds and not real swindlers”. According to him some 10,000 people could be set free. If parliamentarians manage to pass the bill on amnesty before the summer break, the first inmates may be set free already in summer.
The RBK Daily stresses that Mikhail Khodorkovsky will not be amnestied, but it is more important for those fighting for the freedom of entrepreneurs that thousands of people even not that famous will be set free.
Many experts are sure that Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev haven’t got a chance for freedom: they are refusing to indemnify against the damaga the infliction of which was stated in court decisions, and they have more than one criminal record, the Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. “Khodorkovsky’s crime components were connected with a threat of violence,” the vice president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Igor Yurgens, said.