Vera (Arina) Novoselskaya, former minister of culture in occupied Crimea who is serving a 10-year sentence in Moscow for bribery, has applied to fight for Russia in Ukraine in a likely bid for a potential pardon.

According to a Moscow Public Monitoring Commission representative who visited Novoselskaya in prison, she submitted the application three months ago and “[hoped] that it will be considered in the near future,” as reported by Russian state media TASS

Maria Botova, a member of the commission, also told TASS that Novoselskaya “spoke very positively about the detention center staff” who made an effort to “make the prison look as little like a prison as possible.”

Kyiv Post is unable to independently verify the authenticity of Botova’s statements on behalf of Novoselskaya.

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While convicts at the initial stages of Russia’s full-scale invasion received pardons after short deployments in Ukraine, recent changes to the legislation in Russia mean that convicts who decided to fight in Ukraine will have their prison sentence converted to a suspended sentence for the duration of their service.

This would mean that Novoselskaya will likely serve throughout the duration of Russia’s war in Ukraine before being released if her application is approved – unless she receives a state award for valor.

In November 2023, Novoselskaya was sentenced by the Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow to 10 years in prison for accepting a 25 million rubles ($270,250) bribe in 2018, during the construction of the Crimean State Center for Children’s Theater Arts.

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The court also seized Novoselskaya’s and her family’s properties and issued her a 128 million rubles ($1.3 million) fine. She was also deprived of the title of Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation and barred from holding positions in government bodies in the field of education for 15 years. She is also under Ukrainian sanctions.

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Novoselskaya was born in Sverdlovsk (nowadays Yekaterinburg) in Russia during the USSR and moved to Crimea in 1979. She served as an assistant to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada lawmaker Elena Netetskaya prior to the Russian annexation of Crimea and was later appointed the minister of culture in occupied Crimea.

In 2021, Novoselskaya, then the minister of culture in occupied Crimea, was engulfed in a scandal when she was caught saying “F*** your mother” during a live broadcast of a government meeting she joined through video call when she thought the microphone was off.

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