Putin orders examination of Sobchak’s request to pardon alleged ‘political prisoners’

Putin orders examination of Sobchak’s request to pardon alleged ‘political prisoners’
A Russian presidential spokesman has told reporters that Vladimir Putin received a request to pardon 16 alleged political prisoners from election rival Ksenia Sobchak. He has ordered his administration to look into it.

This is true, this list made by Sobchak has been passed to the president. The president received it and charged his administration with the task of working through it,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. “At present, I cannot tell you anything else,” he added.

Ksenia Sobchak has been a Russian celebrity for some time, but her foray into politics started only recently, when she participated in this year’s presidential election. She styled herself as a “none of the above” candidate for those who wished to protest against the establishment but were disinclined to support any of the other candidates. The strategy proved relatively successful as Sobchak finished fourth and got more votes than other liberal candidates (albeit a mere 1.67 percent).

At the end of the elections, Sobchak moved to secure her political position and announced that she was launching a new political party with ex-MP and relentless critic of the Russian authorities, Dmitry Gudkov. She also attempted to attract another celebrity, anti-corruption blogger turned political activist Aleksey Navalny into the coalition, but Navalny refused, publicly accusing Sobchak of working for the Kremlin in exchange for some “huge sum of money.”

Earlier this week, a senior member of Ksenia Sobchak’s elections headquarters, Marina Litvinovich, wrote that her boss had met with President Putin and passed him a list of 16 persons who Litvinovich called “political prisoners,” together with a request to look into possibility of releasing these people through presidential pardon or amnesty.

The list includes people convicted for setting up extremist communities, applying violence to police officers during illegal rallies, as well as terrorism offenses. One of these people is Aleksey Navalny’s brother Oleg, who was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in late 2014 for embezzling over $500,000 from the international cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Another person on the list is Aleksey Pichugin, a former head of security in Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s oil company Yukos, who is currently serving a life sentence for masterminding multiple murders and attempted murders in the interests of his boss.

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