Stay of execution? Russian MP proposes ‘delayed death penalty’ for convicted terrorists

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The head of the State Duma Committee for Security has proposed allowing Russian courts to sentence convicted terrorists to death under condition that the execution of the sentence is delayed until the current moratorium on capital punishment is lifted.

We are moving towards humanization, but I would like our courts to use the term capital punishment in the sentences passed for especially grave crimes, with large numbers of victims killed by explosions or terrorist attacks. The actual execution can be postponed to the moment when the general public starts to realize that this punitive measure must be applied,” MP Vasily Piskaryov (United Russia) said in an interview with TASS.

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Piskaryov also told reporters that he was not giving up his intention to bring back the death penalty. He noted that he had discussed the idea with law enforcement officials and though he had not received broad support, some of those officials supported him.

The lawmaker told reporters that he was confident that European nations would one day understand that in certain extreme cases the use of death penalty is justified and necessary.

In that case, persons convicted of terrorism would have their death sentences ready,” he said.

In his interview, Piskaryov emphasized that he did not consider as valid the main argument of those who opposed death penalty for terrorism – the theory that the threat of death penalty would not stop suicide attackers.

Not all of them are suicide attackers; there are recruiters and organizers of attacks. Organizers are the most dangerous link in this chain because they have ideological and political positions.”

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Piskaryov’s proposal on Friday, claiming that the Presidential Information had no information about it. He, however, noted that the Kremlin position on the issue was well known and it had not changed.

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Russia imposed a moratorium on capital punishment in 1996, as it was one of conditions for joining the Council of Europe. The last execution in the Russian Federation took place on September 2, 1996.

Since the moratorium came into force, Russian politicians and state officials have repeatedly proposed reintroducing the death penalty for crimes such as terrorism, corruption, pedophilia and war crimes. Most recent proposal of this kind came from the nationalist party LDPR in March 2016 – it promised to draft a bill reinstating the death penalty for terrorists and foreign citizens convicted of drug trafficking.

The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has also repeatedly urged the authorities to introduce the death penalty for terrorism, arguing that keeping convicted extremists in prisons is too expensive and also that there is a threat that terrorists serving life sentences would recruit new supporters inside prisons.

At the same time, the Presidential Human Rights Council, along with Putin, have repeatedly rejected calls to reinstitute executions, saying that the measure would be both inhumane and ineffective. In late 2015, the council’s chairman Mikhail Fedotov told reporters that in 2009, Russia’s Constitutional Court prolonged the moratorium on the death penalty, with Putin voicing his strong support for the decision.

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