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Russia Approves Prison Amnesty

December 24, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ Parliament approved an amnesty for 35,000 convicts Wednesday in an attempt to ease overcrowding in Russia’s disease-ridden prisons.

The State Duma, parliament’s lower house, voted 361-9, with 2 abstentions, to give final approval to the resolution. President Boris Yeltsin had earlier urged lawmakers to approve the amnesty ``for humanitarian considerations.″

Under Russian law, only the lower chamber’s approval is needed.

The amnesty will cover prison inmates convicted of less serious crimes, such as petty theft, and serving terms of less than three years. Military veterans, mothers, pregnant women, invalids, minors, and the elderly will be given preference.

The 35,000 inmates will be released over the next six months.

The amnesty will also involve about 340,000 people who have received suspended sentences for minor offenses, including traffic violations.

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