After two weeks of diplomatic and economic wrangling with Russian authorities, a court in Tajikistan freed Russian and Estonian pilots previously sentenced to eight and a half years in jail for smuggling and border violations. On November 8, Vladimir Sadovnichy and Estonian national, Alexei Rudenko, were arrested and jailed, after flying into southern Tajikistan last March. Moscow said the charges were "politically motivated” and deported several hundred Tajik migrant workers, a move it denied was connected to the case. Prosecutor Azim Azimov, who earlier said the sentence was "too harsh," asked the court on Tuesday to reduce the term to two and a half years. He also suggested that the pilots be released in amnesty on December 1 because they had already spent six months in custody. The court granted the appeal.