First Post-Stalin Amnesty

USSR Supreme Soviet, Amnesty. March 27, 1953

 

Original Source: Sbornik zakonov S.S.S.R., 1938-1967 (Moscow, 1968), Vol 2, p. 627.

Law observance and socialist order have grown stronger and the incidence of crime has considerably decreased in the country as a result of the consolidation of the Soviet social and state system, the rise in the living and cultural standards of the population, the increase in the civic consciousness of citizens and their honest attitude toward performance of their social duty.

The Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet deems that in these circumstances it is no longer necessary to retain in places of custody persons who have committed offenses representing no great danger to the state and who have shown by their conscientious attitude to work that they are fit to return to honest working life and become useful members of society.

The Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet decrees that:

1. Persons sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years inclusive are to be released from places of detention and freed from other measures of punishment not connected with deprivation of freedom.

2. Persons sentenced, regardless of duration of sentence, for offenses committed in an official capacity and for economic offenses, as well as military offenses envisaged in Articles 193-4a, 193-7, 193-8, 193-10, 193-10a, 193-14, 193-15, 193-16 and 193-17a of the Russian Republic penal code and corresponding articles of all other Union republic penal codes are to be released from places of detention.

3. Women who have children of up to ten years of age; pregnant women; juvenile delinquents up to 18, men over 55 and women over 50 years, as well as convicted persons suffering from grave incurable diseases are to be released from places of detention.

4. Convicts whose sentences include deprivation of freedom for more than five years are to have their sentences reduced by half.

5. All trials in progress and all cases not heard by courts are to be dropped if they involve the crimes committed before the issuance of this decree:

(a) Crimes for which the law prescribes as punishment the deprivation of freedom for up to five years or other penalties not connected with detention in places of custody.

(b) Crimes committed in an official capacity, and economic and military crimes listed in Article 2 of this decree.

(c) Crimes committed by persons fitting the descriptions in Article 3 of this decree.

As for other cases of crimes committed before the issue of this decree for which the law prescribes deprivation of freedom for more than five years, the court, if it finds it necessary to pass a sentence of deprivation of freedom for not more than five years, is to release the defendant from punishment; and, if it finds it necessary to pass sentence of deprivation of freedom for more than five years, it is to reduce the term by one-half.

6. Citizens who have been tried in the past and have served their sentences or who have been released from punishment on the basis of this decree before completion of sentence are to have their criminal record expunged and their electoral rights restored.

7. The amnesty is not to apply to persons sentenced to terms of more than five years for counter-revolutionary crimes, major thefts of socialist property, banditry and premeditated murder.

8. The criminal laws of the USSR and Union republics are to be re-examined with a view to substituting administrative and disciplinary measures for criminal responsibility in cases of offenses committed in an official capacity and in cases of economic, petty social and other less dangerous crimes, and also a view to reducing the criminal responsibility for some crimes.

The USSR Ministry of Justice is to be given the task of drawing up the appropriate proposals within a month and submitting them to the USSR Council of Ministers for review and for presentation to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.

-K. VOROSHILOV, Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.
-N. PEGOV, Secretary of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.

Source: Current Soviet Policies (New York: F. A. Praeger, 1953, Vol. I.

 

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