Gryzlov: Terrorism Prevents Russia From Banning the Death Penalty

Russian jail. Source: ITAR-TASSSo long as Russia is threatened by terrorism, the country has no plans to ratify the sixth protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights, which would ban the death penalty. Such was Tuesday’s announcement by State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov in a session with monitors from the Council of Europe, Interfax reports.

“Well-known circumstances do not allow us to do this [to ratify the protocol – Ed.],” said Gryzlov. “The issue has to do with terrorist activity in Russia.”

Russia has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, when it joined the Council of Europe under the condition that it would work to prohibit capital punishment. Since then, however, the practice was never banned outright. Gryzlov stressed that despite this, the majority of other obligations that Russia agreed to upon joining the Council had been fulfilled. “For sure, we haven’t ratified the sixth protocol; however, the problem is being resolved differently, but it is being resolved” by continuing the moratorium, he said.

The Russian Constitutional Court ruled last November to extend a moratorium on capital punishment, which had been set to expire in January 2010. The move overruled the court’s original decision in 1999 to allow the introduction of the death penalty if every region of Russia had provisions allowing for jury trials, which Chechnya, the last region without them, was planning to introduce at the beginning of this year.

A January poll by the research center VTsIOM estimated that 44 percent of Russians support a full introduction of the death penalty, with 18 percent in opposition. The majority of those in favor consist of members of the Communist party and elderly Russians, while most of those opposed are members of the opposition parties Yabloko, Right Cause, and Patriots of Russia, as well as young adults. Support for the death penalty in relation to terrorism, however, is relatively higher. In 2005, when VTsIOM estimated public support for capital punishment to stand at 84 percent, 96 percent of respondents were in favor of using the death penalty as punishment for acts of terrorism.