Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone Thursday, in advance of the latter’s expected visit to Israel next week for an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The Prime Minister’s Office said that the two discussed regional issues, as well as the imprisonment of Israeli Naama Yissachar in a Russian jail.
In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said that the discussion “was warm and topical. It also strengthened the prime minister’s view that the issue of the freedom of Naama Yissachar is near a solution.” Netanyahu’s comment comes just two days after Russian Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov said that no deal was in the works for Yissachar’s release.
Yissachar was recently sentenced to seven years in a Russian prison for drug possession. The mother of Yissachar told President Reuven Rivlin that she was organizing mass protests to demand her daughter’s release while Putin was in the country, telling him that she would bodily “block Putin’s entry” into his residence when a scheduled visit took place, demanding an audience with him about her daughter.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu wrote to Yissachar, saying that “Israelis are thinking about you. We don’t leave any person to their fate, and that includes you. The state of Israel and myself are investing great resources in efforts to bring you home. We are in touch with your family, and in every conversation with them we stress our commitment to bringing you home as soon as possible.”
Putin will be one of dozens of world leaders attending the event. Along with Putin, world leaders set to participate in the event are French President Emmanuel Macron, President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, Spanish King Felipe VI, Britain’s Prince Charles, and many others. Leaders are expected to begin arriving on January 22nd, for the event that will take place on the following day.