Putin pardoned Russian citizen convicted of treason after texting a message about military vehicles heading towards Georgia
President Putin has signed an order today, March 7, granting early prison release to Oksana Sevastidi, a resident of the Russian city of Sochi who was convicted of high treason in May 2016 after an investigation concluded that she had disclosed classified military information to Georgia ahead of the war over South Ossetia in 2008.
When the order comes into effect in five days, Sevastidi will have served less than one out of the seven years she was sentenced to. The charges brought against her were based on an SMS she sent to an acquaintance in Georgia shortly before the war broke out in August 2008, telling him she had seen a train loaded with military machinery heading towards Abkhazia.
Meanwhile, her defense team vow that despite the pardon they will seek a full repeal of what they say was an unlawful sentence.
At a press-conference in December last year, though admitting the sentence was “hard indeed”, president Putin shrugged off further questions about it, saying he did not know all the details of the case.
Sevastidi’s is not an unprecedented case, as another Sochi resident Yekaterina Kharebava was tried in 2014 and sentenced to six years in prison for sending a similar SMS about military vehicles in 2008.
The text of the verdict against Oksana Sevastidi features a nuanced description of what events preceded the war, revealing, inter alia, unique numerical designators of the army units and types of machinery carried on board the Abkhazia-bound trains in 2008. “In terms of the sensitivity of the information disclosed, her SMS is a drop in the ocean compared to the verdict itself,” one of Sevastidi’s lawyers Ivan Pavlov said.
JAMnews report on the Sevastidi case.
The opinions, expressed in the report, reproduce the author’s terminology and views and not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff