“We ask you to do an act of mercy and to pardon Svetlana Bakhmina, the former lawyer at YUKOS serving her term in a Mordovian penal colony” says the letter signed by the economist Evgeny Yasin, the lawyers Henry Reznik and Anatoly Kucherena, the journalists Nikolai Svanidze and Pavel Gusev, human rights activist Alla Gerber, the doctor Leonid Roshal, the professor at the Moscow Architectural Institute Vyacheslav Glazychev.
At the end of May 2008 the Zubovo-Polyansky Court of Mordovia refused to grant a parole to the former YUKOS jurist, and in September the district court confirmed that decision. Then signature raising began in the Internet for a letter to the Russian President with a petition for release of Svetlana Bakhmina. So far, that petition has been supported by over 40,000, including Mikhail Gorbachev and other celebrities. And now even the Public Chamber has decided to join in.
“Usually I do not sign collective letters” said Leonid Roshal to a Novaya Gazeta correspondent. “But considering the situation I did it without any doubts”. Nikolai Svanidze sees “definite political context” in what is happening to Svetlana Bakhmina: “The courts try to fit the mood of their superiors; in this case it grows into ungrounded cruelty”. Henry Reznik said that “there can be no obstacles for pardon given by the President, as this is an act of mercy. Refusal to grant a parole to the woman who took only an auxiliary part in a non-violence crime and who has admitted her guilt completely and who has had no records during the prison term, and who has two under aged children and is expecting the third one, such a refusal is discrediting of the Russian statehood”.
On the tide of the public interest to the fate of the YUKOS former lawyer, the heads of the SPS have suggested that an amnesty be given to all the pregnant women and mothers with babies up to one year old. However, they were rebuffed at once. Pavel Krashennikov, the head of the State Duma Committee for legislation, stated that “it is no good making an amnesty acts for a particular person without consideration of the crime done” and that the proposal by the SPS reminds of not very correct PR action. Anatoly Kucherena, one of the authors of the appeal to the President, also disapproved of the SPS’s initiative.