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Thousands Of Azerbaijanis To Be Released In Amnesty

BAKU -- The Azerbaijani parliament has approved a proposal to grant amnesty to thousands of prisoners.

The Act on Amnesty, passed on May 20, is devoted to the Day of the Republic, which is marked in Azerbaijan on May 28 every year.

The proposal was made by first lady and lawmaker Mehriban Aliyeva.

Some 10,000 convicts will be affected by the amnesty, of which some 3,500 are to be released, lawmakers said.

They added that most people convicted for crimes that do not pose a "major threat" to society, people younger than 18 years, parents of handicapped children, men and women over 60 years of age, as well as war veterans will either have their prison terms reduced or be released from custody.

It is not clear if the amnesty will affect several people believed to have been jailed on politically motivated charges, including prominent investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, who is serving a 7 1/2 year prison term on charges that rights organizations and her supporters say are a result of her work as a journalist.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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