Putin pardons woman convicted of treason

Indo Asian News Service

Moscow, March 7 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday pardoned a woman who had been sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of high treason.

Putin said in the pardon decree, signed on the eve of International Women's Day, that the measure was due to "humanitarian considerations", reported Efe news.

The woman, 46-year-old Oksana Sevastidi, was convicted for sending two text messages to the son of a former colleague in Georgia detailing Russian military movements in April 2008.

Sevastidi, who lived in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, had been asked by her Georgian acquaintance whether Russian tanks were in the city.

At that time, Russia was about to enter into war with Georgia over the separatist republic of Abkhazia and had deployed numerous armoured vehicles in the Black Sea region.

Sevastidi answered the message by saying: "there were (tanks) earlier." She also told her acquaintance that a train full of military equipment was heading towards the Georgian border.

In August 2008, following the deployment of Georgian troops in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Five Day War between Russia and Georgia broke out, which ended in an overwhelming Russian victory.

In January 2015, almost seven years after the text messages had been sent, the police showed up at Sevastidi's home to arrest her on treason charges.

In March 2016, she was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, a verdict her defence attorney at the time did not appeal.

Sevastidi's current attorney, Yevgeny Smirnov, said that while news of the pardon was welcome, he would continue to fight for a full exoneration.

--IANS

soni/bg