Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told the mother of an Israeli woman jailed in Russia over drug offenses that "everything will be alright" during a special press conference attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spouse in Jerusalem.
Yaffa Issachar, whose daughter Naama is serving a 7.5-year prison sentence in a Russian prison for possession of small amounts of cannabis, revealed a day earlier she will meet the Russian leader at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem in the morning hours. The mother said she hopes Putin will grant clemency to the 26-year-old, who she said was unfairly treated.
"I have met Naama's mother. It's clear to me that she is from a very good, honourable family," said Putin. "I know the position of the prime minister who is asking me to make an appropriate decision. All this will certainly be taken into account when the final decision is made," Putin said."The mother is very worried, I can see that. I told her and I want to repeat it again: everything will be fine," he added.
The press conference took place shortly after the two leaders met in private at the Prime Minister's Residence and apparently discussed the issue of Issachar and the current tension in the Middle East.
"Sara and I are happy to host you [Putin] again at our home here in Jerusalem and to thank you for the brave bond between Russia and Israel that serves our peoples, our countries and the region's peace and stability," said Netanyahu. "Welcome to Jerusalem."
The Russian leader replied, saying his visit to the Holy Land has been a long time coming. "We work regularly with the prime minister [Netanyahu],' said Putin. "I am sure that this will help promote our bilateral relations and we also remember the victims of the Holocaust, of course. I would like to thank the prime minister and his wife again for inviting me to come to Israel."
Jerusalem sources say they the Russian delegation's decision to invite Issachar to attend the meeting, as a favorable sign to Naama's impending release.
"I am excited and optimistic," Issachar said on her way to the meeting. "This journey is behind us and I really hope to hear something good from the president [Putin] today. Him bringing my daughter back home, to her country, her life and her future."
In return for Issachar's release, Kremlin apparently expects Israel to make a series of concessions serving Russian interests in the region. One of those steps is apparently handing Alexander's Courtyard, a Russian historical site in Jerusalem's Old City, over to Russia in December, a move believed to be part of a potential deal to bring Issachar home.
Putin arrived in Israel Thursday morning to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, alongside dozens of other world leaders.
The event will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Auschwitz Nazi death camp by the Red Army.
Netanyahu also dedicate a monument honoring the nearly 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad. The city, now known as St. Petersburg, is Putin's hometown.
The news agencies contributed to this report