Russia » Politics
Author`s name Dmitriy Sudakov

Russia Unable To Abolish Death Penalty because of Terrorist Threat

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov announced that Russia has no plans to ratify the sixth protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, which would ban the death penalty, due to terrorist threats. He did not explain which threats in particular.

“Well-known circumstances do not allow us to do this. The issue has to do with terrorist activity in Russia,” told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Monitoring Commission’s co-reporters for Russia Andreas Gross and Gyorgy Frunda in Moscow on Tuesday. At the same time, he said Russia had fulfilled the majority of its PACE accession commitments assumed in 1996, Interfax reports.

Gryzlov said Russia was ready to continue working on the appropriate report "although some other countries, which in our view are in a worse situation, have stopped monitoring and it is also an issue to be addressed in our meeting," Gryzlov told the PACE officials. He stressed that since joining the Council of Europe, Russia has joined 56 international conventions and later eight more.

As for ratification of the sixth protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the ban on death penalty, Gryzlov confessed that this is the most frequent question addressed to Russia by Europe. “Indeed, we have not ratified the sixth protocol, but the issue is being solved in a different way,” the speaker told to the PACE representatives. He explained that Russia has a moratorium on death penalty.

In 1996 Russia joined the Council of Europe, membership in which requires banning death penalty. The last death sentence was implemented in Russia in August of 1996. In April of 1997 Russia signed, but have not ratified the sixth protocol. The State Duma had to ratify it before May 1999, but still has not done so.

Instead, in February of 1999 Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation introduced a moratorium on death penalty valid until 2010, when jury courts will begin work in the entire country. By November of 2010 Constitutional Court explained that the moratorium will be extended beyond January 1st of 2010 when a jury court begins work in Chechnya.

Russia’s normative documents still list death penalty as a punitive measure. Abandonment of the moratorium will cause Russia to be excluded from the Council of Europe. In 2005-2006 an attempt was made to divest Russia of PACE authority because of its unwillingness to ratify the sixth protocol.

In Russia, men age 18 through 65 may be sentenced to death penalty. The Criminal Code of RF contains 5 articles prescribing death penalty:

Article 105 - "Murder";

Article 277 - "Infringement on life of a state or public figure";

Article 295 - "Infringement on life of a person administering justice or carrying out a preliminary investigation";

Article 317 - "Infringement on life of a law enforcement officer";

Article 357 - " Genocide".

As of the end of 2009, there were 660 people in Russia with a life sentence and another 697 whose death penalty was replaced with a life sentence. For 211 convicts death penalty was replaced with 25 years sentence, and 51 convicts were sentenced to 15 to 20 years instead of death sentence.