MOSCOW -- The ruling United Russia party has proposed a bill to grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of criminals in honor of the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory in World War II, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
The amnesty would be granted to 330,000 mainly juvenile offenders, pensioners, and World War II veterans. An estimated 40,000 of the total are being held in local jails or preliminary detention centers.
Prisoners convicted of serious felonies and financial crimes would not be part of the amnesty.
United Russia Duma Deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov told RFE/RL the draft bill should be discussed and the details worked out in a Duma committee along with experts from the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor-General's Office.
Yana Yakovleva, the chairwoman of the nongovernmental organization Biznes-Solidarnost, told RFE/RL that the fact the amnesty will not include those convicted of financial crimes gives the impression that "murderers in Russia today are less dangerous for society than businessmen."
She said the amnesty should be amended so that businesspeople convicted for financial crimes could also be released.
Moscow-based journalist Olga Romanova, whose husband is in jail for committing a financial crime, told RFE/RL that the amnesty is a mockery since only pregnant women, the elderly, ex-government officials, and former police will be amnestied.