By Vera Vasilieva, HRO.org: On March 7, 2017 the President of the Russian Federation pardoned Oxana Sevastidi, previously convicted to seven years in prison for «high treason» by his decree. Earlier during his press conference in November of 2016 Vladimir Putin agreed that the sentence was «indeed an example of a hard-way approach».
On March 6 Evgenia Chudnovets, a kindergarten teacher from Yekaternburg, has also been released. The sentence had been repealed by the Presidium of Kurgan Regional Court. Shortly thereafter Kremlin hinted that it was after Putin’s intervention that Chudnovets had been released.
February 28 – activist Taisia Osipova had been released on parole after serving 6,5 years for drug dealing.
February 22 – the Supreme Court of Russia, by motion of Chief Justice Vyacheslav Lebedev, had reviewed the sentence by Basmanny District Court of Moscow which sentenced Ildar Dadin – the first and we hope the last victim of the Article 212.1 of the Penal Code that sees for the criminal responsibility for repeated infractions during meetings and manifestations.
This is a very inspiring list, particularly considering the fact that all the people listed above had been included in the list of political prisoners by Center for Human Rights Memorial (Moscow).
Together with the Memorial Chairman Alexander Cherkasov I can only rejoice at the news of such decisions made by the authorities. And frankly speaking, I do not care about the true motives behind them, even if they (inevitably) differ from the publicly stated ones.
However and for instance, today Zamoskvoretsky District Court still carries out a trial on the so-called Bolotnoye Case Maxim Panfilov from Astrakhan who, as the investigation alleges, forcibly took off the helmet from an OMON soldier’s head, thus causing him physical pain. Mr. Panfilov suffers from a serious neurological disease and his overall condition had surely worsened while in prison.
There’s another thing to add. Oxana Sevastidi, Evgenia Chudnovets and Taisia Osipova had been released without admitting the charges against them. Therefore, next time someone tells you it is a sine qua non to get the parole or be pardoned, do not believe it.
Furthermore, Mrs. Sevastidi had been pardoned without even submitting a formal motion, whether oral or written.
The same fate awaited Mrs. Nadezhda Savchenko, a pilot and Ukrainian MP. In her case, neither acceptance of the charges, nor the motion had been necessary to release her. The only thing that mattered was the goodwill of the Russian President who, following the official wording of such decrees, acted «on humanity grounds» only.
Meanwhile, the letter Vladimir Putin written by Alla Nikolaevna Pichugina ñ in a plea to pardon her son, ex-YUKOS official Alexey Pichugin, is being ignored for three month. He is a declared political prisoner as well.
Dmitry Peskov, press-secretary of the president had earlier on October 19 of the last year confirmed the journalists that Kremlin was aware of that letter.
It was further deferred to Serguey Sobianin, Moscow Mayor, for by law he is also the Head of the commission for pardons of the region where Alexey Pichugin is currently held, Moscow in this case. No answer had followed so far.
That being said, Russian Constitution provides for the instant pardon by the President made by the single stroke of the pen, like it was in Sevastidi’s case, with no need to send the mother’s letter through bureaucratic channels while she fears not to see her son released due to her old age.
The pardon may also protect the regime from awkward questions about falsehood and political context of the entire YUKOS case. Alexey has no intentions to become a politician or fight against the system, or even to start any further trials.
Nor formal motion (or lack thereof) of the convict, nor any «appropriate» date in the calendar can restrain the President in his intention to exercise good will and compassion.
It is also appropriate to keep reminding to others that the list of political prisoners managed by Memorial still comprises 101 names, and it is on the President’s competence to change their fates.
Translated by Alexey Uelsky