Russian President Vladimir Putin has pardoned two women who were jailed for high treason for sending text messages on Russian tank movements before the country’s war with Georgia in 2008, the authorities said Saturday. Annik Kessian and Marina Janjgava, two Russians living in the Russian resort of Sochi near the Georgian border, had sent messages to “friends” in Georgia saying they had seen Russian tanks at the local train station.
The incident occurred a few months before Russia’s incursion into Georgia in August 2008 over two breakaway provinces. Two decrees released on the website where Russia publishes legally-binding official documents said the pair had been pardoned by Putin, who was “guided by the principles of humanity.” The decrees will take effect 10 days after publication.
Kessian, who was born in 1959, was sentenced to an eight-year term in a detention camp in August 2015. Janjgava, born in 1958, was sentenced in May 2014 to 12 years in a camp. The five-day conflict saw Russia move its forces into Georgia in support of separatists in the breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Diplomatic ties between Russia and Georgia have remained frozen after the Kremlin recognised the independence of the two regions. Georgia insists that the two regions are under de-facto Russian occupation.