MOSCOW, June 15. /TASS/. The Kremlin does not discuss the possibility Russia might lift the freeze on the capital punishment, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in reply to a question from TASS.
"No, there are no such discussions in the Kremlin," he said.
Earlier on Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin twice mentioned the theme of the death penalty during his annual question-and-answer call-in. The question if a referendum should be called to find out the public’s attitude to the restoration of the capital punishment was picked by the president himself.
"I imagine what the referendum’s outcome will be. The question was if the death penalty should be applied to murderers, though," Putin said, avoiding to disclose his own attitude to this issue.
Also, Putin mentioned the death penalty in the context of reforms launched in the last years of the Russian Empire by its prime minister, Pyotr Stolypin, who is remembered not only for his positive role, but also for the 'Stolypin train cars' that were used for the forcible resettlement of peasants and the so-called ‘Stolypin necktie’, in other words, the noose."
"We do not use the capital punishment as you know, although sometimes… You know what I mean," Putin said.
When it joined the Council of Europe in February 1996, Russia pledged to stop enforcing death penalties and to adopt a law cancelling the capital punishment altogether. In May 1996 a presidential decree was signed on step-by-step reduction of executions. A freeze on the enforcement of death sentences followed in August same year.
A new Criminal Code took effect on January 1, 1997 to establish the death penalty as an exceptional measure only grave crimes against other people’s lives might entail, such as murder in aggravating circumstances, attempt on the life of a statesman or public figure, of a person who administers justice or carries out preliminary investigation, and of a law enforcement officer and genocide. In April 1997 Russia signed Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights to pledge to cancel the death penalty altogether. Russia is the sole member-country of the Council of Europe that has not ratified this Convention yet.
On February 2, 1999 the Constitutional Court declared a freeze on the capital punishment until the introduction of trial by jury in the whole of the country’s territory. On November 19, 2009 the Constitutional Court prolonged the moratorium till Russia’s ratification of Protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights.