Amnesty for criminal cases in February 2022 - will the law be adopted?

In 2022, information is often disseminated on the Internet that an amnesty will be announced very soon in the Russian Federation.

Some even name the supposed days on which they want to coincide with the amnesty. In addition, most human rights activists are confident that this procedure must be carried out this year.

In this article we will take a detailed look at what amnesty is, what articles fall under the amnesty and other nuances relating to this concept.


Criminal amnesty is not announced often and usually in this case a very small percentage of prisoners on “light” charges are released: first-time offenders on very light charges, pregnant women, disabled people, minors, etc.

According to Wikipedia, the last amnesty was announced in 2015 and was associated with the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War.

According to the same data, amnesties in recent years have been carried out at intervals of 3-5 years.

There are two types of amnesties:

  • unplanned “small” ones , which apply to a very narrow contingent of inmates. It is very difficult to estimate when such an amnesty will take place and you need to understand that most likely it will not be for you or your relative;
  • planned , timed to coincide with a specific anniversary date. This can somehow be predicted.


The largest Soviet camps were located in difficult and remote areas to prevent escapes. Therefore, removing large consignments of amnestied people from there was not a very easy task; a significantly larger amount of transport was required than usual. Former prisoners were taken in large groups to large junction railway stations, where they waited to be sent home. Due to logistical confusion and transport problems, some prisoners waited for weeks at these stations to be transported. Undoubtedly, this pushed them towards crime. And at the junction stations, the crime rate really jumped immediately after the amnesty. Although there was, of course, no talk about the seizure of entire settlements by yesterday’s prisoners and about criminal terror, these are later myths. Before departure, each amnestied person was given a passport, a certificate of release, a ticket home, and a small amount of money for food expenses on the road. It was assumed that immediately after arriving home, all those amnestied would be employed, but the mechanisms of the state machine turned slowly, and even six months after the amnesty, a third of those released were not yet employed. It was easiest with those amnestied from rural areas, who made up the majority. They returned home and immediately found employment on collective and state farms. It was somewhat more difficult for city residents to find work right away. Therefore, in rural areas the amnesty was completely painless, but in the cities the situation was somewhat different, although greatly exaggerated by rumors.

What to expect in 2022

To date, the only document on amnesty is a resolution of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Such a resolution must be approved by the Duma, after which it is signed by the President of the Russian Federation.

As of today, about 5 draft resolutions dedicated to various anniversary dates have been planned and submitted to the State Duma:

  • in connection with the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917;
  • in connection with the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Russian Federation;
  • in connection with the 30th anniversary of the end of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan;
  • in connection with the celebration of National Unity Day.
  • in connection with the third anniversary of the signing of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea.

News about the amnesty can be viewed here>>> and here>>>.

The text of these projects can be read on the official website of the State Duma in the “Draft Resolutions” section (Home/Objects of Legislation/Draft Resolutions) or viewed on our website here>>> .

The main thing to note is that all these projects have not yet been approved and it is not clear when this will be done.

We can only hope that one of the projects will be approved and come into force in the near future.

It should also be noted that the last amnesty was announced 6 years ago. Therefore, there is a high probability that an amnesty will be announced in 2022.

The Federal Penitentiary Service, in turn, does not object to the epidemiological amnesty for prisoners. At the moment, there is no discussion of amnesty in the State Duma, so it is difficult to say whether it will happen in 2022 or will be postponed to 2022.

The appeal was supported by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and other business associations. It is noted that the State Duma previously refused to discuss such an initiative.

In 2022, it is also proposed to release from punishment those convicted of mass riots and crimes committed during unauthorized meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or pickets by their participants.

This is due to the holding of numerous public protest events in various regions of Russia in recent years. Some of these events were not approved by authorized bodies of state power or local self-government, which led to confrontation between their participants and law enforcement officers, and in some cases to the use of violence against the latter.

Christina Shekina, lawyer, expert on criminal law on amnesty in 2022

At the same time, in relation to mass riots, it is proposed, taking into account the social danger of this crime, to exempt from punishment those convicted of participation in mass riots or calls for them, regardless of the completion of the crime, and those convicted of organizing mass riots or for inducing, recruiting or otherwise involving a person in their commission - only in cases where the crime remains unfinished.

Exemption from punishment for those convicted of specific crimes (participation in mass riots or calls for them, hooliganism, simple violation of traffic rules and operation of vehicles) has already been applied during the “broad” amnesty of 2013.

What to expect for those sentenced to maximum security

When the law on amnesty comes into force, those convicted of serious and especially serious offenses will not be able to expect release. There are no exceptions to the rules. This point is described in Art. 15 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Grave are considered intentional acts, for which the maximum penalty does not exceed 10 years of imprisonment, or careless acts, for which a penalty of no more than 15 years of imprisonment is provided. Crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for more than 10 years are considered especially serious.

On a note!

You should not expect that the amnesty will affect repeat offenders and persons who violate the order and regime in correctional institutions or who have committed a crime in places of deprivation of liberty.

Those incarcerated and their families are hoping for speedy passage of the long-awaited law so they can be released early. It remains to be expected that the State Duma and the President will make an appropriate decision.

Who is eligible for amnesty?

Who exactly falls under the amnesty is usually indicated in the text of the resolution itself (the text of the draft resolutions can be viewed on our website here>>> ).

If it is timed to coincide with an event, then the resolution will usually include participants in those events. For example, the Resolution declaring an amnesty in connection with the 30th anniversary of the end of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan states that such an amnesty will apply to combat veterans sentenced to imprisonment for up to 5 years.

But there is a category of convicts who are more likely than others to receive amnesty. This is usually:

  • minors who were sentenced to no more than five years and committed a crime before the age of 16, or if the crime was committed between 16 and 18 years, but the conviction is the first;
  • minors who have already served more than half of the required prison term, and the term of imprisonment does not exceed five years;
  • pregnant women or women caring for minor children;
  • women who were sentenced to a term of no more than five years and their age exceeds 55 years;
  • men, if they have a child under three years of age in their care;
  • men who were sentenced to a term not exceeding five years and whose age exceeded 60 years;
  • disabled people sentenced to a term not exceeding five years, moreover, of any disability group.

The amnesty does not include repeat offenders, persons who have committed any crime in places of serving a sentence, as well as those persons who constantly violate the order established in correctional institutions and pre-trial detention centers.

In addition, those convicted under a number of “severe” articles are not eligible for amnesty.

The specifics need to be looked at in the text of the resolution.

Recently, in discussions regarding amnesty, migration amnesty has often been mentioned, which can be applied to visiting citizens staying illegally or semi-legally on the territory of the Russian Federation. If such citizens have not committed significant crimes, they are offered amnesty.

Conditions for declaring amnesty

The decision to declare an amnesty can be made by the relevant authorities only in conditions of a stable low crime situation, and also in the absence of a chance of its worsening.

To achieve this, there must be a stable economic and internal political situation throughout the Russian Federation. At the same time, they should not plan to reduce the number of law enforcement personnel.

Of course, the expected amnesty in 2022 in Russia in criminal cases may not happen for several of the above reasons. The main reason is the threat of an unstable crime situation, or its sharp deterioration.


As mentioned above, according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, when declaring an amnesty, the State Duma of the Russian Federation issues a corresponding resolution, which must be signed by the president.

This resolution does not contain any personal information. That is, the amnesty applies exclusively to a group of people.

After the amnesty has been announced, in relation to a specific person, the court or investigative authorities issue a corresponding personal act of amnesty for this specific person, but only if the decision is approved by the administration of the correctional institution in which the prisoner is located.

How it all happens: procedure order

Issues regarding the application or non-application of an amnesty to a specific person are resolved by the bodies listed in the amnesty act or in the Resolution on its application.

The legal basis for exemption from criminal punishment, mitigation of punishment and the application of other measures is an official document issued by such a body.

The final decision is made based on the results of an assessment of the personality of the amnestied person and on the basis of the general criteria listed in the amnesty act.

Based on the provisions of Art. 27 of the Criminal Procedure Code, exemption from criminal liability under an amnesty is formalized in the form of:

  1. Resolutions to refuse to initiate a criminal case at the stage of its initiation.
  2. Decrees to terminate a criminal case - if the investigation is completed.
  3. The judge's order to dismiss the case – if the case has been sent to court.

If a person is eligible for amnesty, the decision is made automatically without any applications or petitions . Authorized authorities are responsible for this. The decision to apply an amnesty act applies to each person individually. Responsibility for making the final verdict rests with the following authorities:

  1. Correctional institutions and pre-trial detention centers - in relation to persons who have been sentenced to imprisonment. The decision is accompanied by the personal file of the convicted person, a certificate of rewards and penalties, and other information.
  2. Bodies of inquiry and preliminary investigation - if the cases are under the jurisdiction of these bodies.
  3. Courts - if the court decision has not entered into force or in relation to conditionally convicted persons.
  4. Bailiffs - if the penalty is a fine.
  5. OVD - for persons not in custody, the sentences in whose cases have entered into legal force.
  6. Military unit command – in relation to military personnel sentenced to restrictions on military service.

The specified authorized authorities have the right to request additional information regarding the person, and such requests are subject to immediate execution.

Thus, the final decision on holding an amnesty in 2020 has not yet been made: it is still at the draft stage. It is expected that the draft law will be adopted in the first half of 2022 and will be timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. The amnesty is supposed to be extended to persons convicted of minor crimes, for crimes of negligence, belonging to socially vulnerable categories of citizens or having services to the state. The amnesty will only apply to criminal offenses.

What else do you need to know

The amnesty may include both those who are already convicted, according to a court decision, and those who are still in a pre-trial detention center at the preliminary stage of investigation.

Amnesty is different from pardon. The main difference between an amnesty and a pardon, which is strictly individual in nature and, as a rule, does not depend on any external factors, is that an amnesty can be declared to an entire group of people who are serving criminal sentences for minor crimes.

Amnesty, according to the law, can provide for both a reduction in the court term and early release. In addition, it is possible to have a criminal record expunged and released from administrative liability.

For what cases will there be a criminal amnesty?

Criminal amnesty is announced infrequently. A very small percentage of prisoners convicted of crimes of minor severity, the punishment for which does not exceed 3 years, have a chance to be released early. The Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, Tatyana Moskalkova, noted in which cases the sentences should be reviewed.

On a note!

She proposed to include in the project an amnesty for crimes of medium gravity, the punishment for which does not exceed 10 years in prison.

Legal essence

In Russia, amnesty is regulated by the Constitution and the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The right to decide on the release of a group of persons belongs to the State Duma.

The amnesty does not imply amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on the provided penalties and does not call them into question. The illegality of criminal acts and punitive measures for their commission remain the same: prisoners who are not included in the amnesty and who committed a crime outside of its term are not exempt from punishment.

The decision on amnesty cannot be interpreted as a “mistake” made during the preliminary investigation or during sentencing. That is, a person eligible for amnesty still remains guilty of a criminal act.

The amnesty provides for criminals:

  • exemption from criminal liability;
  • release from actual imprisonment and punishment;
  • reduction of the period of punishment;
  • replacement of a court decision with a more lenient punishment;
  • removal of a criminal record.

The applicability of the decision made to certain persons is established by the preliminary investigation body, as well as by the prosecutor and the court.

High-profile cases of pardon

Cases of pardoning individuals were widely covered in the media at one time:

  1. 1997 President Boris Yeltsin signed an act of pardon for former diplomat Vladimir Makarov, recruited by American intelligence back in Soviet times. The former adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was sentenced to 7 years in prison. The President granted Vladimir Makarov freedom.
  2. 2010 President D. Medvedev signed an act of pardon for three citizens: Alexander Zaporozhsky, Sergei Skripal, Igor Sutyagin. All three were charged with treason. The president’s decision was somewhat forced: the criminals were exchanged for ten Russian intelligence officers who had been detained a month before the decision was made in the United States. Among them was the famous Anna Chapman.
  3. 2017 President V. Putin, by force of his decree, pardoned Oksana Sevastidi, accused of high treason.

Amnesty statistics in Russia

Official statistics on amnesties in Russia count more than 20 years of the practice of releasing convicts. The story dates back to 1856, when Emperor Alexander II decided to release participants in the Polish uprising, as well as the Decembrists and Petrashevites. Over the past 100 years, a huge number of people convicted of minor crimes have been released.

Amnesty statistics in the Russian Federation for the period from 1994 to 2015:

YearNumber of persons subject to amnesty, effectiveness
1994 (in connection with the adoption of the Constitution of the Russian Federation)Amnesty statistics contain data on 23 thousand people released from colonies. The total number of citizens included in the amnesty this year is 67.1 thousand people
1995 (50th anniversary of the victory in World War II)One of the largest amnesties, affecting about 131 thousand people
19975 thousand people (persons convicted of crimes during the Chechen armed conflict and prisoners of war)
199924 thousand people were released. The total number of people included in the amnesty is about 140 thousand people
2000 (55th anniversary of the victory in World War II)877 thousand people
200124 thousand women and persons under 18 years of age sentenced to a term of no more than 6 years were released
2006 (100th anniversary of the establishment of the State Duma of the Russian Federation)12.5 thousand people, of which 2.5 thousand people convicted of non-dangerous crimes were released
November 2013Economic amnesty affecting 1.3 thousand people
December 2013 (20th anniversary of the Constitution of the Russian Federation)About 24.3 thousand people were released
2015 (70th anniversary of the victory in World War II)231 thousand people were released, of which more than 34 thousand were from places of imprisonment

The 2015 amnesty was the last in the Russian Federation. And today many are wondering whether there will be an amnesty in connection with the coronavirus. But it is incorrect to pose the question this way. The basis for such a decision is usually important dates for the country. And in this case, this is the 75th anniversary of the Victory

The new bill is still being discussed in the presidential administration. The Federation Council and State Duma of the Russian Federation consider it advisable to hold a broad amnesty in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials want to release citizens convicted of minor crimes from prison. Thereby reducing the risk of infection. The law has not yet been adopted. So you shouldn’t expect an amnesty by the May holidays.

However, there is already judicial practice when the accused is transferred from a pre-trial detention center to house arrest due to the danger of coronavirus. This decision was made by the Moscow Court of Appeal on April 7.

Amnesty statistics in chart form:

Why is the amnesty carried out?

Amnesty is declared by the state, of course, for a reason. By introducing this measure, it also pursues “personal” goals:

  1. Full provision for one prisoner per year costs the treasury about 100 thousand rubles. Given the not-so-best economic situation in our country today, this is a very serious amount for the state. It is estimated that the early release of at least 200 thousand prisoners will have a beneficial effect on the Russian economic system.
  2. One of the reasons for the 2022 amnesty is a significant reduction in the staff of the penal system and the Ministry of Internal Affairs over the past 30 months. For example, in 2015, the number of workers decreased by 27 thousand people, while the number of prisoners remained at the same level.

The State Duma is discussing the prospects for an amnesty

The main point discussed in the Duma is the list of articles of the Criminal Code for which amnesty is possible. In particular, it is planned to exclude articles of the Criminal Code identified during the last amnesty.

As the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Legislation P. Krasheninnikov explained, this technique will help avoid the decriminalization of certain types of criminal offenses. The periodic release of those convicted under one article can deprive the activities of the law enforcement system of practical meaning. Therefore, the amnesty procedure, as well as the list of categories of prisoners eligible for it, must be carefully worked out.

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