MOSCOW, May 24 (RAPSI) - Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, head of the Public Chamber Commission for Law Enforcement Reform, supports the idea of an amnesty not only for businessmen, but also for all those who are guilty of minor- and medium-gravity crimes.

Business Ombudsman Boris Titov said in early May that he would urge the State Duma to announce an amnesty in time for Businessman's Day on May 26. Titov initially demanded amnesty for those who were sentenced for financial crimes as, in his view, faulty financial policy stands as a major impediment to business in Russia. To illustrate the point, he noted that as many as 46% of Russian businesses operate in the shadow economy as a result of high taxes. His sentiments on the issue have been hotly debated, ultimately leading to the present push for an amnesty.

The United Russia leaders in the State Duma and Criminal Law Committee head Pavel Krasheninnikov have supported the proposal, but have said that the statistics should be analyzed first.

President Vladimir Putin earlier said the draft resolution on the financial crimes amnesty should be thoroughly considered.

Kucherena said he is not against an amnesty for businessmen, but argued that the buck shouldn't stop there, arguing that it should include all categories. "I know about the problems in the business community, but we must not divide people into those who are worthy of being amnestied and those who are not," he said.

The State Duma is working on a resolution to pardon those who are serving sentences for financial crimes under nearly 50 Criminal Code articles, including those under which Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev were convicted.

The draft resolution reads that criminal cases are to be closed under 44 Criminal Code articles, mostly those on economic crimes, within six months after the resolution comes into force. The amnesty would include people sentenced for fraud, embezzlement and property damage.