(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - As the start of the Sochi Olympics approaches, the Russian authorities have decided to release another prisoner of conscience (POC) in a move that can be seen as politically expedient, Amnesty International said today.
The Russian Supreme Court took a decision with immediate effect today to reduce the sentence of businessman Platon Lebedev to the time already spent in prison. His sentence was due to expire in May 2014.
"Platon Lebedev was confined to prison as a result of a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial," said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia program director at Amnesty International. "Russia's Supreme Court decision gives freedom to Platon Lebedev three months early, however it does not quash his conviction or remedy the injustice done to him."
The decision to cut the sentence of Platon Lebedev follows the release, in December 2013, of his business associate and fellow POC Mikhail Khodorkovski under a presidential pardon. A number of other prisoners of conscience were released at the same time under the latest amnesty law, including the Pussy Riot punk group members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and a handful of Bolotnaya case detainees. There are still prisoners of conscience behind bars in Russia.
"The piecemeal releases of people who were imprisoned for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression is no substitute for an effective justice system," said Dalhuisen.
"The Russian authorities must release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience and remove the charges from those already at liberty."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.