Euroasian Jewish News
Mother of Israeli woman in Russian jail denied visit
The mother of Naama Issachar, the Israeli imprisoned in Russia for seven and a half years on a minor drug charge, was denied the right to visit her daughter on Tuesday despite having received court permission on Monday.
Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, arrived at the prison some 80 km. outside of Moscow on Tuesday morning, but was refused visitation by prison officials and told that a visit from the Israeli consul last week to Issachar came at the expense of her mother’s visit.
The Russian officials have permitted two family visits to Issachar per month, and visits by consular officials and lawyers were not supposed to have been included in this allocation.
Efforts by Issachar’s lawyers and the deputy Israeli ambassador to Russia to allow Yaffa’s visit to go ahead were unsuccessful, and Yaffa subsequently returned back to her rented apartment in Moscow without seeing her daughter.
According a friend of the Issachar family, the directorate of the prison holding Issachar told her mother that a phone call was also not permitted.
She will try and visit Issachar again on Friday, November 1.
The Khimki District Court in the Moscow Oblast, which is handling Issachar’s case, has banned her from speaking in Hebrew during visits, ostensibly because there is no official Hebrew-Russian translator to monitor the visits.
The Foreign Ministry said in response: “The issue was immediately raised through diplomatic channels in Jerusalem and Moscow, alongside the consular assistance being provided.”
“I am helpless, and I don’t understand why they make things harder and harder on Naama every day,” Yaffa said following the incident. “This is abuse and I request from the president, the prime minister and the head of the National Security Council to bring an end to this abuse against Naama. Naama is innocent and is paying a heavy price because of legal and diplomatic decisions of the State of Israel that have no connection to her. She cannot be a captive or a bargaining chip between the two countries.”
Issachar’s uncle Yisrael Cohen said in light of Monday’s events that the Russian authorities were “abusing Naama and her mother,” and described the situation as “abnormal.”
He said that Issachar was a strong person but that her circumstances were worrying.
“They think they [the Russian authorities] can do anything they want, they present themselves as democratic and as respecting human rights, but that’s not what we’re seeing,” Cohen told The Jerusalem Post. “Naama is strong, but if you’re given a seven-and-a-half year sentence not for something you did, but something above you involving a struggle between the US and Russia, it’s not encouraging, we’re worried she will break.”
“It looks like they’re getting instructions from above in this case,” Cohen said.
A recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to deport a Russian citizen, currently detained in Israel and due a US extradition request against him on fraud and hacking charges, has seemingly complicated Issachar’s situation.
Issachar, who was born in the US and has dual American-Israeli citizenship, was returning to Israel in April after a three-month trip to India via a connecting flight in Moscow.
As she was boarding her flight to Tel Aviv, she was pulled over by Russian police, who told her they had found what transpired to be nine grams of cannabis in her checked baggage.
The cannabis was never on her person while she was in the Moscow airport, but in her checked luggage and she never left the airport, or even tried to, which her lawyers said demonstrated she had no intent to “smuggle” the nine grams of cannabis into Russia.
BY JEREMY SHARON