Vladimir Putin to Yaffa Issachar: Everything will be OK

Iran will be at the center of Netanyahu’s planned meeting with Putin, as well as a potential pardon for imprisoned Naama Issachar.

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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin reassured Yaffa Issachar, Naama Issachar’s mother, during a meeting between them at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Thursday morning.
Putin said to Yaffa that “everything will be alright.”
Yaffa Issachar was present for a portion of the working breakfast between the two leaders, alongside the Patriarch Theopilus III of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, who facilitated the meeting between Yaffa and Putin.
They discussed the case of Naama Issachar, 26, an American-Israeli serving a 7.5-year sentence in a Russian prison for possession of 9.5 grams of cannabis. Netanyahu has officially asked Putin for a humanitarian pardon of the woman, who was arrested in April 2019 at a Moscow airport en route from India to Israel.
According to Yaffa Issachar, Putin told her “I will return your girl home,” but he did not say when. She described Putin 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, Naama Issachar’s mother.”
The prime minister called the meeting “very emotional” and thanked Putin for his gesture.
Putin said: “It’s clear that Naama comes from a very good family. I know the honorable prime minister’s stance... All that is being taken into consideration at the time of making a decision.”
The Russian president added that Yaffa Issachar will be meeting with the head of his country’s human rights commission.
Naama Issachar, in an interview from her cell on Thursday, said she believes Putin when he told her mother, “Everything will be OK.”
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.
“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 OK, I believe everything will be OK.”
Moskalkova told Channel 12: “They have a TV in jail, and they watched Putin’s meeting with Naama’s mother. Her cellmates even said they cried a little. They were all surprised that the Russian president shows such level of compassion and humanity by meeting and supporting the mother of a simple woman... [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.
Putin arrived in Israel on Thursday for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, where he was slated to give an address and then to return to Russia the same day.
At the meeting’s opening, Netanyahu thanked Putin for “the strong connection between Russia and Israel that serves our nations, our countries and peace and stability in the region. Welcome to Jerusalem.”
Putin said he has long wanted to visit Israel again.
“I am certain that this will help promote our bilateral relations, and of course today we will remember the victims of the Holocaust,” Putin said.
Netanyahu discussed Iran’s nuclear program with Putin, with a focus on bringing back UN sanctions in light of Tehran’s uranium enrichment, as well as ways to reinforce the deconfliction system between Israel and Russia in Syria.
President Reuven Rivlin and Putin also met, with Rivlin focusing on the rise of antisemitism. Rivlin said: “We know where antisemitism begins, but we don’t know where it will end, which is why it is important for all of us to fight together.”
Putin thanked Israel for its efforts to preserve the memory of World War II.
“You said we don’t know where antisemitism ends,” he said. “Unfortunately, we know that the end is in Auschwitz. We have to make sure not to let this phenomenon happen again... The Red Army did not just liberate Auschwitz. It made a decisive contribution to the victory over the Nazis.”
Putin is said to be trying to use the anniversary of the victory in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War to heighten patriotism and gain support from the public so that he can remain in power after his presidential term ends in 2024.
Also on Thursday, Netanyahu, Putin and Rivlin dedicated the Memorial Candle monument in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park near the Supreme Court to the victims of the Nazis’ siege of Leningrad, today known as Saint Petersburg. An estimated 600,000 to 1.5 million residents of the city perished in the 900-day blockade, among them tens of thousands of Jews, many of whom enlisted in the Red Army or joined volunteer militias that defended the city.
World War II veterans and about 70 siege survivors attended the ceremony, along with Netanyahu, Putin and other dignitaries.
The 8.5-meter-high column, designed by a team of Israeli and Russian architects and artists, has a cast-bronze element representing a candle that is illuminated at nighttime to give the effect of an eternal flame.