An amnesty proposal from Russian President Vladimir Putin could free up to 60,000 prisoners. The bill, which was announced Thursday, was put forth to the federal parliament and could have wide-ranging effect. The amnesty, which could release almost a tenth of Russia's convict population of around 670,000, would be a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end World War II and the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, according to the Moscow Times.
While people convicted of major crimes are ineligible, the amnesty bill could affect up to 260,000 people. That larger figure includes those who have been convicted of a crime but might have been released on probation or have commuted sentences.
The announcement comes during a relatively tense time for Russia, which is having financial struggles amid war in Ukraine and rising suspicion in other neighboring countries. Former Polish President Lech Walesa recently called for the West to confront Putin with its nuclear weapons to stem what he called Russian aggression. Meanwhile, the Russian ruble has recovered, but its rising value has opened the door to new troubles, including making the national economy more difficult to stabilize, Bloomberg reports.
Putin made the amnesty proposal in a speech at the Kremlin Palace, calling for the Parliament -- which never defies his wishes -- to release the prisoners. “In exactly one month, we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War,” a statement read, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency. “We will honor our veterans, pay our respects to all those who died defending this country’s freedom and independence.”
Convictions ineligible for amnesty include “murder, violent crimes, terrorism, extremism, kidnapping, fraud, bribe taking, crimes against children and drug-related crimes,” the Kremlin said.
Putin's plan is not without precedent. Russia amnestied about 537,000 convictions on World War II victory anniversaries in 1995, 2000 and 2005, according to state news agency Tass. In December 2013, the protest band Pussy Riot was granted amnesty in a high-profile case that made international news.