Former Russian intelligence officer Vladimir Kvachkov, known for his radical views about the Russian leadership, has been released from prison after his conviction for incitement to hatred was annulled following the partial decriminalization of extremism in the Criminal Code.
Relatives, journalists, and supporters met Kvachkov at the gates of a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia on January 19.
Asked about his state and mood, the 70-year-old former colonel replied, "I am ready for a mission and a fight!"
Kvachkov was initially arrested in December 2010 and sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2013 after a Moscow court found him guilty of creating a terrorist group and plotting to overthrow the government. The term was later cut to eight years.
In August 2017, Kvachkov was found guilty of inciting hatred and handed an additional two years in prison.
The additional conviction stemmed from a video in which Kvachkov called for the government to be toppled and which was smuggled out of prison.
He was released 12 days after a court in Mordovia canceled the conviction due to the amendment to the extremism-related article in the Criminal Code.
In late December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that removed the possibility of a prison sentence for first-time offenders found to have incited ethnic, religious, and other forms of hatred and discord in public, including in the media or on the Internet.
In 2008, Kvachkov was acquitted of planning to kill former Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais.