Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar said Tuesday that attempts to secure the release of an Israeli woman jailed in Russia on drug charges could soon be coming to a successful close.
Israeli-American Naama Issachar, 26, is currently serving a 7.5-year sentence for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana while on a layover in Moscow as she returned to Israel from India last April.
"I think that's the direction, but I don't know when it will happen," Lazar told Ynet about her release.
"I think we are finally nearing the end; [the family] has been through a very difficult time," he said.
The rabbi noted that the Russian media is no longer concerned with the idea of a pardon for Issachar.
"It is not talked about so much," he said. "The issue came up for a long time, but today thank God the situation is calm and in our opinion this is good."
"This is the story of a girl who has been punished for reasons we do not understand. People understand that her release would be a positive step - both in bilateral relations and as a humanitarian issue. She made a mistake, but she has suffered enough. It's time for her to go home."
Lazar said that representatives of the rabbinate in Russia frequently visit Issachar in jail.
"Our people visit all the time," he said. "We have an entire team that works with people who are in distress or in prison and visit as much as we can. We take her food, anything we can give her - morale, support in every way - we do the utmost."
He added: "We hope to hear good news on this issue."
On Monday, officials in Jerusalem confirmed that progress had been made in negotiations for Issachar's release.
The officials said Israel is optimistic that Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrival in the country on Thursday would be accompanied by good news on this front.
Putin will be joining dozens of other world leaders at an International Holocaust Forum event at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
Also Monday, Issachar's mother, Yaffa, met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an update on efforts to release her daughter.
The meeting was also attended by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who asked the family to refrain from giving interviews so as not to hurt efforts to secure her release.