Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Thursday about recent regional developments and the case of Naama Issachar, an Israeli woman jailed in Russia for cannabis possession, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
"The conversation was warm and to the point and strengthened Netanyahu's optimism that the issue of the release of Naama Issachar is advancing towards a solution," the statement read.
The 26-year-old was arrested in April while in transit at a Moscow airport, en route from India to Israel, and accused of carrying 9.5 grams of cannabis.
Russian authorities charged her with drug smuggling and she was sentenced to to seven and a half years in jail by a court in Moscow last October.
Putin is scheduled to arrive on a one-day trip to Israel, during which he will participate in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, and inaugurate a monument in memory of the victims of the siege of Leningrad at the Sacher Garden in Jerusalem.
Putin will also meet separately with President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu .
Putin cut his visit to Israel short to one day due to the recent resignation of the Russian government, but some believe that fears for demonstrations and provocations by activists pushing for Issachar's release might have played a part in the decision as well.
Issachar's mother, Yaffa, said that Netanyahu spoke to her after his conversation with Putin and told her to remain strong and optimistic.
"The prime minister told me that it is my responsibility to maintain Naama's mental toughness as long as she is Russian jail while remaining strong and optimistic, because the prime minister of Israel is obligated to release Naama," Issachar told Ynet.
"I am optimistic and ask with all my heart from the Russian president to act like a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people and the leader of a world power – and release my Naama home to Israel."
Issachar also said that the family and activists do not intend on provoking Putin during his visit to Israel.
"I wasn't planning [to provoke Putin] in the first place and believed that Putin will release her [Naama] before his arrival," said Issachar.
"The activists do want to do something, but no decision has been made yet. I hope Putin arrives with a promise. If he doesn't release her - I believe he'll come with a message to Israel anyway."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said Tuesday that his country is not looking into a possible prisoner exchange deal since Issachar has been convicted of criminal offenses.
He referred to Issachar's complaints to the European Court of Justice and told the Russian news agency TSS that "this is her lawyers' work. We cannot advise her on the matter. That is her right.”