Mother of Israeli Jailed in Russia Says Putin Expected to Pardon Her During Israel Visit

Yaffa Issachar asked activists working for her daughter’s release to respect the Russian president and refrain from protesting against him during his visit to Israel this week

Bar Peleg
Noa Landau
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Billboard bearing portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli-American Naama Issachar, Tel Aviv, December 12, 2019
Billboard bearing portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli-American Naama Issachar, Tel Aviv, December 12, 2019 Credit: AFP
Bar Peleg
Noa Landau

Naama Issachar's mother said Sunday that she expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to pardon her daughter in the coming days.

“It’s the moment of truth, this week we’ll know when [Naama] will go free. I left Israel in tears, and if there are no surprises I will return to bring her,” Yaffa Issachar said. She asked activists working on behalf of her daughter’s release not to protest against Putin when he arrives in Israel Thursday for a visit, explaining that she sought to “respect the president.”

Hijacking the Holocaust for Putin, politics and power

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Talk of Issachar’s likely release has intensified over the past several days, with Russian reports saying that Putin could announce a pardon during his visit to Israel later this week.

Issachar, 26, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after 9.6 grams of hashish were found in her possession during a layover in the Moscow airport.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that he had spoken with Putin about the matter. “I felt that he has genuine readiness to reach a solution. I am much more optimistic. I cannot go into details but we will continue to do everything in order to bring Naama home. And until then, we will continue to support both her family and her,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Putin was invited to visit Israel by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. He will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum on Thursday. Some 30 heads of state and senior officials are scheduled to attend, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence; Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump; French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the heads of the European Union.

A number of the presidents will meet with Rivlin, their Israeli counterpart, while others will meet with Netanyahu. A few of the foreign dignitaries, including Macron, also requested a meeting with Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz, so as not to be seen as expressing an opinion in the upcoming general election in Israel.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian special presidential envoy for the Middle East, will arrive in Israel Tuesday, ahead of Putin. Bogdanov will meet with Netanyahu, and the two men are expected to discuss Issachar’s release, among other topics.

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