Death penalty debate revived in Russia

Feb. 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM
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MOSCOW, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A debate over whether to reinstate the death penalty has been renewed in Russia following the recent brutal killings of two young girls, officials say.

A moratorium on executing convicted prisoners has been in force for more than a decade, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

"I don't see anything wrong with bringing it back," Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said Sunday in response to a journalist's question whether the death penalty should be applied to the persons who killed an 11-year-old girl in the Irkutsk region and an 8-year-old girl in Tatarstan.

Then-President Boris Yeltsin began a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996 as a requirement to join the Council of Europe. However, the protocol has never been ratified by the Duma, the federal Legislature.

Deputies of the Communist Party, which wants the death penalty restored, lauded Kolokoltsev's position.

However, President Vladimir Putin is maintaining his "longstanding and consistent position" against the death penalty, said his spokesman.

Pavel Krasheninnikov, chairman of the State Duma's Legislation Committee, said capital punishment should be eliminated in Russia "because the state mustn't be an instrument of revenge."

Some 62 percent of Russians say the death penalty should be restored, a Public Opinion Fund poll found in April 2012. Only 5 percent think it should be abolished.

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