Amsterdam, 11 December 2013 – Lawyers for Greenpeace International believe the draft text of a Russian amnesty to be voted on by the Duma (the Russian parliament) would be unlikely to benefit the Arctic 30.
In its present form, the proposal would apply only to people who have either been convicted of hooliganism, or people who are on trial and will be convicted within the six month period after the amnesty decree is adopted.
The Arctic 30 fall into neither category, but could be granted amnesty if the text is only slightly amended.
Greenpeace International lawyer Daniel Simons said:
“As it stands the amnesty text would not include the Arctic 30, but it very nearly does. The Duma would only have to make a relatively minor amendment to the text and include people charged with hooliganism whose trial has not yet been scheduled. Then the Arctic 30 could go home. Right now they still face the possibility of trial and conviction for a crime they didn’t commit, and prison sentences that could stretch to many years. The charges against them should of course be dropped, but if the Arctic 30 case can be brought to an end through the amnesty then that would be a welcome development for people who have already spent two months in jail for standing up for their beliefs.”
The proposal submitted by the President  includes – under point 3 – an amnesty for persons convicted under Article 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism), the offence with which the Arctic 30 are charged. It applies for a period of 6 months. But the draft resolution explaining how the decree must be implemented  states – in point 1.3 – that courts may apply the amnesty to persons whose case was pending at the time of adoption of the amnesty decree. This does not include the Arctic 30, whose trial has not yet begun.
It is not immediately clear whether the apparent omission of the Arctic 30 from the proposal is accidental or deliberate. Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, which originally recommended a broad amnesty, in recent days expressed the expectation that the President’s proposal would include the Arctic 30. 
The amnesty is scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Russian constitution – December 12th. However the timeline has slipped somewhat, with the first hearing on the bill now scheduled to take place on December 17th. It is not clear when the final vote will be.
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