Duma ready to consider amnesty for Bolotnaya rioters – MPs

Duma ready to consider amnesty for Bolotnaya rioters – MPs
Russia’s lower house could soon consider and pass the bill on amnesty covering the resonance case of about 12 people convicted and tried for inciting mass unrest during a protest rally in Moscow in 2012.

MP Dmitry Gudkov has promised to submit the bill as early as the week after next. The current draft deals with those involved in crimes committed during the mass rally on Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, one day ahead of Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration, when several thousand people protested against alleged violations during the 2011 parliamentary poll, won by the pro-Putin United Russia party.

The amnesty bill reads that these suspects and convicts should be relieved of punishment connected with prison sentences. In addition, the bill suggests releasing all those sentenced to prison terms of five years or less for crimes committed out of carelessness, women who are pregnant or have underage children, women over 55 and men over 60 years of age, war veterans and some other categories of convict. The bill also provides that courts should stop criminal cases against the suspects who fall into the abovementioned groups.

The bill was originally developed by the Opposition Coordination Council - a marginal and vague body that appeared during the protests which took place before and after the last nationwide parliamentary elections and of which Gudkov is a member.

Thirty-three-year-old Gudkov was elected to the State Duma from the moderate leftist party Fair Russia, but grew more radical with time, especially after his father Gennady Gudkov, also a Fair Russia MP, was ousted from the house for violating the Russian law that forbids MPs to own businesses while in office. Both Gudkovs were also expelled from Fair Russia after they joined the Opposition Coordination Council and refused to quit it despite the insistence of their party leadership.

Both politicians took active part in several protest rallies, including the one that took place on Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 and that developed into protesters’ clashes with police.

Immediately following the riots law enforcers instigated criminal cases into calls for mass unrest and violence against representatives of law enforcement bodies. Russian mass media usually refer to them collectively as the Bolotnaya Square Case. Police have established 26 suspects and two of them have already been sentenced to 2.5 years and 4.5 years behind bars. Twelve people are currently on trial and other separate cases are still in the investigation phase.

It should be noted that three MPs from the Communist Party caucus submitted their own bill granting amnesty to Bolotnaya Square rioters already in April. The head of the State Duma Committee for Criminal Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov told the press earlier this month that the parliament would start considering the Communists’ draft in October.

This week Krasheninnikov told Interfax that he personally considered it “right and objective” to include the Bolotnaya case suspects and convicts in the amnesty.

Shortly before this statement President Vladimir Putin said that he did not exclude the possibility of granting amnesty to Bolotnaya Square rioters, but added that “all necessary procedures should be brought to their logical legal completion.” Putin also compared the case with the riots in UK in 2011, saying that British police have brought most of the participants to account.

Presidential plenipotentiary for Human Rights Vladimir Lukin has also voiced his support for the amnesty plan, adding that the authorities should show magnanimity in such controversial cases.