Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to an amnesty that could see detained Greenpeace activists and jailed members of the punk performance-art group Pussy Riot freed.
Putin said on December 4 the amnesty would not apply to those convicted of severe or violent crimes. He said the amnesty should underscore the government's "humanism," but should not be interpreted as meaning criminals could commit crimes and "expect forgiveness from the state tomorrow."
Putin was speaking at a meeting with ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Mikhail Fedotov, chief of the presidential Human Rights Council.
Lukin said up to some 100,000 people could benefit from the amnesty but added it was more likely that between 30,000 to 50,000 would actually benefit from it.
Fedotov said the amnesty could apply to detained members of the Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise," and "might" apply to imprisoned former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was convicted of tax evasion 10 years ago and is serving a prison term until 2014.
Fedotov did not mention if Khodorkovsky's partner, Platon Lebedev, also due to be released from prison next year, would also be eligible for the amnesty.
The 30 people aboard the "Arctic Sunrise" are all out of custody on bail but charges of hooliganism remain against them for their attempt to scale a Russian oil rig in the Arctic Ocean in September.
Fedotov said opposition leader Aleksei Navalny would fall under the amnesty as it is written now since he is serving a suspended sentence after being convicted of theft earlier this year.
Fedotov said one of the people detained for the so-called "Bolotnaya Affair," Maria Baronova, would be eligible for the amnesty. More than 25 people are still in custody for the violence that broke out during an antigovernment protest in Moscow in May 2012.
Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are also possible recipients of the amnesty. Both young women remain in prison after being convicted last year of hooliganism after staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow.
Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, reminded reporters that the draft of the amnesty still needs to be sent to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Peskov said Putin will submit the draft amnesty to the Duma personally.
The amnesty is timed to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's constitution, which will happen on December 12.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax