Israeli Naama Issachar Released from Russian Prison Greeted by Netanyahu at Moscow Airport
Naama Issachar’s Pardon: A Long-Sighted Gesture?
The gesture was timed to coincide with the visit to Moscow of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
MOSCOW – Russian authorities pardoned and released US and Israeli citizen Naama Issachar, who was imprisoned on drug smuggling charges.
This gesture was timed to coincide with the visit to Moscow of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the main theme of which was a new peace plan for the Middle East..
Issachar, 27, who was born in New Jersey and later moved to Israel, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for possession of drugs after border guards found 9 grams of hashish in her bag during a transfer at a Moscow airport on the way from India to Israel.
In a political sense, the moment when President Vladimir Putin decided to pardon her is far from accidental..
Netanyahu has been fighting desperately for a year to keep his post amid allegations of corruption. This week, prosecutors formally charged Israeli leader with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Issachar from the very beginning was considered a pawn in the political game between Washington, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
The girl was arrested while Russia was seeking the extradition of hacker Alexei Burkov, who is accused by the US authorities of fraud using electronic means.
In November last year, Israel decided to hand Burkov over to the United States, which seemingly destroyed all chances of pardoning Issachar..
Despite the jubilation over her release, questions remain: what contributed to this decision? What changed? And what did Putin get in return??
Obviously, this is good news for Netanyahu’s next election campaign: on March 2, the Israelis will go to the polls again after two previous votes led to a deadlock..
Israeli experts suggest that Netanyahu secured the release of Issachar by handing over to Russia an important facility for the Russian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.
Spurring general curiosity, the Kremlin announced that the Patriarch of Jerusalem played an important role in delivering a letter from Issachar’s mother..
Meanwhile, in Russia, more attention is paid to other arguments in favor of the release of Issachar..
“She, thank God, is very good for her, she did not cross the border of the Russian Federation,” Putin said. Drugs were found in the girl’s luggage while she was in the airport transit area.
Although the Kremlin insisted that Issachar must plead guilty in order to obtain a pardon, the Russian leader appeared to support her lawyers’ arguments that no crime was committed in fact..
“So, was there an offense or not?” – asks the political scientist Arkady Dubnov on his Facebook.
“In the end, who is interested in these little things,” jokes the commentator for “Echo of Moscow” Matvey Ganapolsky. “Issachar had to be released because she was an annoying obstacle in Russian-Israeli relations.”.