Russia: Issachar hasn’t yet asked for pardon, delaying possible release

‘I believe Putin. If he says everything will be okay, I believe everything will be okay,’ jailed woman says

Yaffa Issachar meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin together with Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu on January 23, 2020. (photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
Yaffa Issachar meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin together with Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu on January 23, 2020.
(photo credit: PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE)
The Kremlin said on Friday that the possible release of Naama Issachar was being held up because she had not yet formally requested to be pardoned.

Issachar, 26, an American-Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges, is serving a 7.5-year sentence in a Russian prison for possession of 9.5 grams of cannabis.

In a meeting at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin reassured Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, that “everything will be alright.”

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was impossible for Issachar to be granted a presidential pardon without her first formally requesting one.

Issachar’s attorneys are planning on discussing with her in the coming days the statements made by Peskov.

The lawyers stressed that this will have to be her own personal decision and that they would announce her decision when she makes one.

Netanyahu has officially asked Putin for a humanitarian pardon of the woman, who was arrested in April at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport en route from India to Israel.

According to Yaffa, Putin told her “I will return your girl home,” but he did not say when. She described the Russian leader as charming and down-to-earth.

Netanyahu said after the meeting, “We have just finished an excellent meeting, at the end of which President Putin requested Yaffa to join in on the discussion.”

Putin said: “It’s clear that Naama comes from a very good family. I know the honorable prime minister’s stance... All [of] that is being taken into consideration at the time of making a decision.”

Putin arrived in Israel on Thursday for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, where he gave an address and then returned to Russia the same day.

Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova visited Issachar in prison to oversee her conditions and told Channel 12 she looks well. Together with Issachar and her three cellmates, Moskalkova watched Putin’s meeting with Yaffa Issachar.

Moskalkova said they have a TV in jail, and Issachar’s cellmates said they cried a little.

“They were all surprised that the Russian president shows such a  level of compassion and humanity by meeting and supporting the mother of a simple woman,” she said. “[Putin’s] words inspired Naama and put hope in her for a quick return to her country.”

Moskalkova said her jail visit had nothing to do with the request to pardon Issachar, adding that she does not have that authority.
Issachar said the meeting made her more optimistic.

“I was very excited to see my mother meeting such important people,” Issachar said. “I am still here, but I believe what Putin said. If he says everything will be okay, I believe everything will be okay.”