Yaffa Issachar, the mother of an Israeli woman serving a 7.5-year prison sentence in Russia for possession of marijuana, had expressed hope on Sunday her daughter will be released before Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Israel later this week.
Upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, Issachar also praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has indicated Naama Issachar's ordeal will soon be over after his conversations with Putin last week.
"We've reached the moment of truth," Issachar said. "We'll know this week when Naama will be released. I want to go see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and show him my support. I believe that Putin will pardon her."
Putin is scheduled to visit Israel on Thursday to participate in a Holocaust remembrance ceremony.
Russian daily newspaper Kommersant reported last Thursday that President Putin is considering an amnesty for Issachar before his visit to Israel.
According to the report, the Kremlin is sorry Israel didn’t accept Moscow's extradition request of Russian hacker Alexei Burkov, who was incarcerated in Israel for four years before being extradited to the U.S.
"We wanted this to be a bi-lateral move," a Russian government source said. "It is also highly likely Issachar will be released "for humanitarian reasons."
An Israeli senior official criticized the apparent existing paradigm of exchanging favors between Jerusalem and Moscow.
"We've done the Russians enough favors," the source said. "Some related to the security situation and some to the return of (missing soldier) Zechariah Baumel's body in April 2019 – the same month Naama Issachar was arrested."
Yaffa Issachar in a message to supporters and activists for the release of her daughter Naama from prison asked that Putin's visit to Israel be without incident. "I appreciate everything you have done to bring Naama's plight to the public sphere but now is the time to let negotiations play out."
Activists were planning to disrupt Putin's visit in protest of Naama's ongoing incarceration for what they say was a trumped-up charge and use of a young Israeli woman as a political pawn.
First published: 18:58 , 01.19.20