MOSCOW, June 21 (RAPSI) - Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, to grant an amnesty pardoning those with first-time convictions for economic crimes who either have reimbursed the damages, or who have expressed the willingness to do so. He urged lawmakers to undertake the initiative prior to leaving for the summer holidays.

Speaking at a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, President Putin stated that a draft resolution on the proposed amnesty had been reviewed by the business community and some members of the Duma. He asserted his belief that the State Duma would be able to review and support the draft, and advanced his expectation that such agreement would come abuot in a timely fashion - before the start of the summer break.

The president went on to explain that in accordance with the draft, the amnesty will affect those who have committed crimes within the sphere of entrepreneurial activity, but were convicted for the first time, and have either already paid for their damages, or have expressed a willingness to do so. 

The State Duma will break for the summer vacation on July 14. Its final plenary session before vacation will be held on July 5.

Talk of a financial amnesty emerged after business rights ombudsman Boris Titov pleaded with the State Duma to release 111,000 enterpreneurs from prison. He believes many of those were pressured into breaking the law by flawed and overly strict financial regulations.