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HRW: Russian Amnesty Should Not Distract Attention From Abuses

Four Greenpeace International activists show their relief following a decision by the Russian parliament adopting an amnesty ending legal proceedings against them in St. Petersburg on December 18.
An international human rights organization says the Kremlin's amnesty for some prisoners should not distract attention from the continuing injustices in the Russian legal system.

Human Rights Watch said on December 20 that the amnesties of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two jailed members of Pussy Riot, and the 30 Greenpeace Arctic protesters free people who never should have been imprisoned for their activities.

Deputy Director Rachel Denber writes in a commentary, "There are plenty of other cases that reveal how Russia’s justice system is abused for political purposes," including the prosecution of participants in the May 2012 antigovernment demonstrations.

Denber says the timing of the amnesty -- just months ahead of the Sochi Olympics -- suggests it may be to improve Russia's image and that Moscow will continue to crack down on dissent "after the international spotlight leaves Sochi."
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