What is pardon in the Russian Federation: essence, conditions, petition

Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in the latest edition:

Article 85 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Pardon

1. Pardon is carried out by the President of the Russian Federation in relation to an individually designated person.

2. By an act of pardon, a person convicted of a crime may be released from further serving a sentence, or the punishment assigned to him may be reduced or replaced with a more lenient punishment. A person who has served his sentence may have his criminal record expunged by an act of pardon.

Return to the table of contents of the document: Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in the latest edition

What does pardon mean?

According to part 3 of Art.
50 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, every convicted Russian has the right to ask for pardon, which means an improvement in the situation of the person in respect of whom there is a sentence that has entered into force. Only those who have been sentenced and must serve it can apply for such leniency; this is different from amnesty. Due to the issuance of an amnesty act for any holiday, memorable date, etc. a person may be released from serving a sentence, which will be indicated in the sentence. A similar situation when a person is found guilty, but is released from punishment, may be the expiration of the statute of limitations for bringing to justice. Under such circumstances, when there is a verdict but no punishment, pardon is impossible.

In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and criminal law, a person has the right to apply for pardon in any criminal case, be it theft or brutal murder with qualifying characteristics, regardless of the type and duration of the imposed punishment. What can you ask for? According to the legislation, a person has the right to make the following request:

  • release completely from further serving of the sentence. Example: Churov E.N. assigned to serve 5 years in prison, 2 of which he served. Having addressed the President of the Russian Federation with a petition, Churov was pardoned and released from serving the remaining 3 years of isolation.
  • mitigate the punishment by replacing it completely (or the unserved part) with a more lenient one - correctional labor, compulsory labor, restriction of freedom, a fine. Example: Eremin K.A. was convicted of intentionally causing bodily harm to his work partner, and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Of these, Eremin has already served 7 years in a colony, and the remaining year was replaced by an act of pardon for 1 year of correctional labor.
  • shorten the period of stay in a colony without changing the sentence of imprisonment to another. Example: when a convicted person was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but then, through a petition, it was possible to obtain leniency, reduce this term to 8 and a half years.

In addition to the above, you can apply for early expungement of a criminal record if a person has already served his sentence. According to the law, for a certain time (depending on the category of the crime), a convicted person who has already served his sentence retains a criminal record - you can read more here. In this publication, we described in detail how to petition the court for early expungement of a criminal record. Meanwhile, each person has the opportunity to draw up a petition of similar content, sending it not to the court, but to the President.

Example . Lavrentiev P.A. served his sentence of imprisonment and was released from a correctional facility on 10/01/2015. Lavrentyev was convicted of robbery, which meant 8 years of expungement from the specified date. Not wanting to wait until the expiration date for his criminal record expired, Lavrentyev applied to the court for early expungement of his criminal record, but was denied. Later, Lavrentyev decided to write to the head of state, his request was granted, and his criminal record was cleared ahead of schedule.

Since asking for a pardon is the constitutional right of any Russian, it is impossible to prevent the implementation of this opportunity under any circumstances. For example, the administration of the institution where the convicted person is serving his sentence does not have the right to refuse to register a petition received from the convicted person.

According to the laws of Russia, pardon can only be granted by the President of the Russian Federation, and no one else. Even on his instructions, or on his behalf, no official has the right to show constitutional mercy to the convicted person. Unlike the act of amnesty, which extends its effect to a group of people who share certain characteristics (disabled people, women, minors, suspended sentences, etc.), the act of pardon applies only to one specific person individually.

The procedure occurs in the following order:

  1. Drawing up a written request.
  2. Sending it for consideration.
  3. Getting the result.

Let's consider the listed stages in more detail.

Legal basis

A pardon is a mitigation or remission of punishment for persons convicted of crimes, regardless of their severity. The act is signed by the President and releases the criminal from the punishment imposed on him by the court (Article 85 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Pardon, regulated by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Criminal and Criminal Executive Codes of the Russian Federation, allows you to reduce the length of a person’s stay in prison or release him from prison prematurely (Article 176 of the Criminal Code).

The third part of Article 50 of the Supreme Law of the Russian Federation states that every criminal who has received punishment has the right to send a petition to the person who grants pardon in the Russian Federation, or a request for a commutation of punishment. It follows from Article 71 of the Constitution that the decision on pardon is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. In other words, this conclusion is made by the highest federal authority of the country, that is, the President. This is the exclusive constitutional power of the Russian leader in accordance with Article 89 of the main Law of Russia.

Sample petition (petition) for pardon

Despite the fact that there are no special requirements for writing it, it is better to use the example:

To the President of the Russian Federation

From the convict Maxim Georgievich Popov, born on September 28, 1966, serving a sentence in the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Irkutsk Region, IK No. 8, Irkutsk, st. Stroiteley, 345, detachment 7

Petition for clemency

By the verdict of the Irkutsk Regional Court dated January 20, 2008, I, Maxim Georgievich Popov, was convicted under paragraph “a” of Part 2 of Art. 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to life imprisonment to be served in a special regime colony.

During the trial, I did not admit guilt in what I had done, but soon after arriving at the special regime colony, I realized that I had made a monstrous mistake, which resulted in the death of two of my loved ones. I won’t write how many times over all these years (10 years) I reproached myself for what I did. I sincerely repent of the fact that I took the lives of my two most beloved women - my wife and daughter, and for some ridiculous reasons I could not prevent the tragedy. During the time spent in solitary confinement, I realized that I had no forgiveness. I understand that I must bear the harshest possible punishment. At the same time, being in lifelong isolation from the world, I feel doomed to death, the meaning of life is lost for me.

Considering that today I do not pose any danger to society, abiding by the law is the norm for me, I still hope that someday I will be released. That is why I ask you for leniency and to replace my life sentence with a specific term of imprisonment, during which my behavior will be impeccable. In the future, I intend to be useful to society, find a job and no longer commit any offenses.

Based on the above, in accordance with the provisions of Art. 85 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Art. 50 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation,


on pardon and on the replacement of a life sentence with 20 years of imprisonment in a special regime penal colony.

Attachment: a copy of the sentence that has entered into legal force on 30 pages, characteristics from IK No. 8 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Irkutsk Region, a certificate of health.

Popov M.G., 10/09/2018

Based on practice, most often people sentenced to life are actually replaced with imprisonment for a certain period - most often 25 years.

From the above petition it is clear that the convict is trying in the letter of pardon to draw attention to the fact that he repented of his deeds and took the path of correction. He assures that he will never break the law again. Admission of guilt is not a mandatory criterion that must be included in the petition. At the same time, when it comes to repentance, it cannot be sincere without awareness of one’s guilt, therefore, the attitude towards the deed, in our opinion, should be reflected in the text.

In general, the circumstances that can be set out in a petition may be different in each individual case - after all, there are no strict requirements for drawing up an appeal, we have already written about this. Facts from the biography may be indicated about those merits that were appreciated both before and after the conviction, about work or socially useful work, about incentives and lack of penalties in the colony, etc. For those who are sentenced to a suspended sentence and ask for pardon in the form of expungement of a criminal record early, participation in charity events, social movements, etc. may be a sufficient argument.

Example . A.V. Karpov, sentenced to five years in prison. served his sentence in full and was released from a general regime colony in February 2022. Karpov was found guilty of illegal possession and distribution of a fairly large quantity of drugs; he himself was once a drug addict. Upon his release, Karpov created the “No Drug Addiction” community, which over the course of a year more than 300 people from his hometown joined. Karpov organized all possible assistance for those who could not get rid of addiction, but wanted to start a new life. A year after his release, Karpov wrote a petition to the president for a pardon, indicating all his achievements and real evidence of correction. His criminal record, which lasted 10 years, was cleared early.

Thus, the reasons for which it is really possible to conclude that the convicted person has been corrected must be clear and compelling. An unsubstantiated statement cannot serve as an argument in favor of the person asking.

Example . Gerasimov K.V. was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for robbery. 2 years before his release, he decided to appeal to the President to have the remaining sentence replaced with another type of punishment. In the letter, Gerasimov indicated that he was employed in the colony, he had two young children dependent on him, he suffered from an illness and it became unbearable for him to spend time within the walls of the colony. The convict did not consider it necessary to attach to the petition copies of birth certificates and information that the harm caused to the victim had been repaired; the colony did not have such information. He was denied pardon because information about his health alone was insufficient.

Based on the example, we can conclude that they will consider more carefully those appeals that are maximally supported by materials and documents confirming what is written. In addition, the administration of the correctional institution is obliged to provide its objective data - characteristics, list of rewards and penalties, information about placement in a punishment cell, etc. Sometimes the material on pardons amounts to several volumes.

Review procedure

The procedure is determined by a special Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated December 28, 2001 No. 1500, which describes in detail the procedure for making decisions on applications for pardon.

Currently, in accordance with the Regulations approved by this Decree, special commissions have been created within each region or territory of Russia, which include at least 11 people with higher education who enjoy special respect among the population. These commissions make a preliminary decision on the received petition and draw up a conclusion on its validity. The same Regulations abolished the pardon commissions under the President of the Russian Federation that were in force before 2001.

Question: Suppose the convicted person has drawn up a petition for pardon, where should it be sent?

The regulation provides that the application of a person held in conditions of isolation from society must be registered with the administration of the colony or pre-trial detention center (depending on the location of the applicant). After which the application is sent to the Federal Penitentiary Service Office in the region, all relevant documents are attached to it: sentences, subsequent decisions of courts of various instances, information about the state of health, a description of the time spent in isolation - that is, all the information that the institution has. In this case, the convicted person is notified in writing that the application has been sent to the Federal Penitentiary Service (a copy must be sent to the prosecutor).

It is unacceptable not only to refuse to accept an application, but also to refuse to send correspondence of this kind.

In some cases, the convicted person turns to the administration of the penal colony with a request to include certain documents that are important for resolving the issue of pardon, but for some reason are not in the person’s hands. This is acceptable, and the administration has no right to refuse to provide the characterizing materials at its disposal.

When a conditionally convicted person asks for pardon , his application is registered with the penal inspection and then sent to the territorial body of the regional penal system.

If an applicant who has already served his sentence asks for the removal of a criminal record , he sends his appeal directly to the commission, the address of which can be found on the website of the regional Government. For example, the commission for the Moscow region is located at Prospekt Mira, 72. Here you can find out information about its composition, meeting dates and persons recommended for pardon.

The application of a convicted person held in places of deprivation of liberty, together with additionally collected material, must be sent to the territorial body for the execution of punishment (usually the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service for the region, territory) within 10 or 20 days (in cases of crimes of minor and medium gravity or serious crimes, respectively). If for some reason the administration did not send the material for pardon (for example, this became clear after a request to the Federal Penitentiary Service), it is necessary to appeal the actions of the officials to the prosecutor's office or to the court.

Documents received by the FSIN Department from the colony must be sent to the commission no later than within a week. In addition, the Federal Penitentiary Service is entrusted with the obligation to report every month reliable information about all received applications of this nature to the Presidential Administration, whose employees prepare a quarterly report on information about applications for the first person of the state.

The duty of the commission is to prepare a conclusion within a month on the possibility or impossibility of satisfying the request of the convicted person. In fact, such a conclusion is of paramount importance for deciding the fate of the person who applied for leniency, since a positive decision in the future can be made precisely on the application that was approved by the commission.

The Regulations on the Pardon Procedure provide a list of circumstances that are always taken into account by the commissions when giving their conclusions:

  • the nature and degree of danger of the crime . Thus, those convicted of crimes of minor gravity, without the use of violence, as well as for careless acts, can more likely count on having their request granted;
  • the applicant’s behavior in the colony - the presence of even minor violations of the order of serving can become a decisive factor in refusing to satisfy the application;
  • length of sentence served - the chances are greater for those convicted who, by the time the application was sent, had already served more than 2/3 of the total term of imprisonment;
  • compensation for damage caused by a crime . Full compensation for damage caused by a selfish crime (theft, fraud, etc.) is always considered a big plus for the characteristics of a convicted person. For other categories of acts, compensation for moral damage is, of course, considered a positive criterion for a prisoner (for example, when, as a result of a beating, the cost of treatment and rehabilitation is voluntarily compensated);
  • information about health (disability, serious illness), family information (no one to care for parents or children).

Other important information can be taken into account, including characteristics from other persons - neighbors, employer, educational institution, etc. All appeals from relatives and friends are also taken into account and can be considered along with the main statement of the convicted person. In addition, at the initiative of the commission, a request may be made to the FSIN institution for the submission of additional documents. Such a request for a colony must be fulfilled within 10 days.

The commission's conclusion is sent to the highest official of the region - usually the Chairman of the Government, Governor or Head of the municipality. In turn, the highest official of the executive body of the region or territory makes a proposal to the President of the Russian Federation. The list of persons who were considered eligible for pardon is published on the website of the Government of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation and in other media.

Presidential Decree

If a positive decision is made on the petition, the act of pardon will be drawn up in the form of a Decree, which reflects the personal data of the person and what the mercy consists of. At the same time, the details of the reasons for which the petition was granted are usually not reflected in the Decree:

Decree of the President of the Russian Federation

Guided by Art. 85 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, based on the principle of humanity, I decide to pardon Andrey Nikolaevich Petrov, born on December 12, 1955, who was sentenced by the Pyatigorsk City Court on September 10, 2008 to 13 years of imprisonment in a maximum security correctional colony, releasing him from further serving his sentence.

The decree comes into force from the date of its signing.

Signature of the President, date, number, Moscow, Kremlin.

The decree is sent to several addressees:

  • for execution to the administration of the correctional institution,
  • to the territorial Office of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the region,
  • to the regional governor (Head of the municipality).

The very fact of the release of a convicted person or partial mitigation of his situation does not give rise to his right to rehabilitation. At the same time, a person is not deprived of the right to appeal a sentence that has long since entered into legal force based on newly discovered circumstances, through the procedure of cassation or supervision. In the event that the verdict has decided to compensate the harm to the victim, the Presidential Decree on pardon does not relieve the convicted person from such an obligation.

Recommendations for relatives

A petition for pardon may be submitted to the President of the Russian Federation and the head of the correctional institution. In practice, any document or appeal submitted by family and friends must be reviewed, registered and taken into account. Relatives can submit an appeal after a petition from the convicted person himself.

It is worth emphasizing the noteworthy merits of the convicted person, indicating special, important circumstances in connection with which he can and should be pardoned.

Relatives may inquire about the status of sending materials, as well as the stage of their consideration.

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