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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Duma grants amnesty to prisoners
Russian Duma
The Duma can pass amnesty laws without approval from the president
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has unanimously granted amnesty to thousands of prison inmates.

Mothers with young children, elderly people and teenagers will be among up to 3,000 prisoners to benefit.

It will not apply to those convicted of serious crimes. The bill was passed by 433 votes to nil, with one abstention in a special, single reading.

The vote was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of first convening of the legislature in Tsarist Russia.

The Itar-Tass news agency said that as well as up to 3,000 prisoners, it will also affect between 10,000 and 15,000 people under investigation or on trial.

The law will not apply to inmates convicted of serious crimes, such as murder, robbery or terrorism, or to those who have broken prison rules or are repeat offenders.

Under special rules in the constitution, the Duma has the right to pass amnesty laws without approval from the upper house or the president.


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