Posted 9 ноября 2022,, 06:44

Published 9 ноября 2022,, 06:44

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

The return of the death penalty to Russia: there are no more obstacles

The return of the death penalty to Russia: there are no more obstacles

9 ноября 2022, 06:44
The question of the death penalty in Russia is again being considered and discussed at all levels.

After the restriction of Russia's rights in the Council of Europe and the introduction of jury trials in all regions of the Russian Federation, the moratorium on the death penalty may actually be lifted. Will it become reality?

Irina Mishina

It all started with an appeal to the president by State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin , who on October 27 called on the country's leadership to restore the death penalty for organizers of terrorist attacks against children and youth. Following this, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev made a resonant statement.

Legal barriers to capital punishment

“There are now no restrictions on the return of the death penalty in Russia, but everything will depend on the current situation: the moratorium can remain if everything is calm, or it can be reviewed if necessary,” Dmitry Medvedev said. complex. It is ideological, philosophical, moral. You can have different attitudes towards the death penalty. Naturally, the points of view have always been opposite. But at least we can say the following now: the motive for making a number of decisions of the Constitutional Court, no doubt, was the participation of our country in the conventions of the Council of Europe. Now these conventions have lost their force for us”.

There are no more legal obstacles to capital punishment in the country, said Yury Sinelshchikov, First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on State Building and Legislation. Indeed, on February 26, the Council of Europe restricted Russia's rights against the backdrop of a special operation in Ukraine. At the same time, the adopted decision is not considered Russia's exclusion from the Council of Europe and it remains a party to all conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

“In the Criminal Code, this norm (the death penalty - editorial note) exists, a number of articles provide for such responsibility, this is provided for in the general part of the Criminal Code, and this is also provided for in the Constitution as an exceptional measure”, - Deputy of the State Duma Yuri Sinelshchikov told NI. - The moratorium existed a long time ago, when it was introduced by the Constitutional Court, so that jury trials were introduced in all subjects, because the Constitution says that in the conditions of the existence of a jury trial, the death penalty can exist. Now jury trials have been introduced in all regions, the last was Chechnya, so the moratorium has ended, the death penalty can be applied”.

Indeed, according to Article 20 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the death penalty, pending its abolition, may be established by federal law as an exceptional measure of punishment for especially grave crimes. In this case, the accused should be given the right to have the case tried by a jury. In 1996, Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree phasing out the use of the death penalty.

“You can return to the death penalty by lifting the moratorium. In principle, there is no prohibition on the death penalty in the Constitution, but the abolition of this moratorium now will be quite difficult to justify. The people in their mass are always for the death penalty. Another thing is that, in addition to obligations in the Council of Europe, from which Russia withdrew, this measure must go through certain legislative stages and procedures. And they are quite long and difficult. In particular, the Constitutional Court must issue an opinion and give a legal justification. And it is not a fact that our Constitutional Court will authorize the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty. There is one more nuance: when joining the Council of Europe, Russia signed the Convention on Human Rights, which imposes certain obligations”, - political lawyer Oleg Zakharov told NI.

The last of those executed

On the night of September 1-2, 1996, the last sentence to the exceptional measure of punishment - the death penalty - was carried out in Russia. The hit list was closed by 36-year-old maniac Sergei Golovkin, nicknamed Fisher. Between 1986 and 1992, he brutally murdered at least 11 boys, the youngest of whom was 12 years old. The sentence was carried out in Butyrka prison.

Golovkin raped and killed children for 6 years, while subjecting them to severe torture, hanging and then dismembering. Later, the offender said that while mocking children, he imagined that the children were partisans, and he was a “fascist punisher”. Two days before the capture of the dismemberer Golovkin, the Rostov court issued a verdict on the most terrible criminal of the USSR, Andrei Chikatilo, a serial killer, rapist, pedophile and cannibal, who, in order to obtain sexual satisfaction, killed with particular cruelty at least 43 people in different regions of the USSR, mainly in the Rostov region. He was also sentenced to death.

Our reference. In 1992, 159 people were sentenced to death in Russia (of which 18 were executed). In 1993, 157 people were convicted (10 were executed), in 1994, 160 people were convicted (10 were executed), in 1995, 141 people were convicted (40 were executed), in 1996, 153 people were convicted (two were executed - pedophiles-dismemberers Andrey Chikatilo and Sergey Golovkin).

It is said that then President Boris Yeltsin hesitated for a long time before deciding whether to execute Sergei Golovkin. But in the end he rejected his petition for clemency ...

Former investigator for particularly important cases under the USSR Prosecutor General, the prototype of the protagonist of the film "Incorruptible", a well-known Russian lawyer Vladimir Kalinichenko believes that the death penalty should be returned to Russian law. “All the talk about a miscarriage of justice is nonsense. If an innocent person is convicted, it means that the facts were rigged during the investigation or at the trial. The Kushchevskaya gang, which shot an entire family, was given 20 years. Is that fair? And these criminals for 20 years, no one will support, but taxpayers. If there is doubt about the verdict, there can be no verdict. Recently, studying the verdicts of the courts, I see a trend: the punishment is imposed below the lower limit. For example, the court sentenced to 13 years old and a fine of the former colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Zakharchenko, who became widely known because of the 8.5 billion rubles found from him. Is this an adequate punishment? Of course, I also had to petition for death sentences in court, but when they began to recall the killer, there was no pity. According to statistics, now the majority is for the introduction of the death penalty, but the president may have a different opinion", - a former investigator for especially important cases under the Prosecutor General told NI Vladimir Kalinichenko.

Today, 58 countries retain the death penalty under the law, including 22 countries that have recently carried out executions. The People's Republic of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan lead in the number of death sentences carried out. In the post-Soviet space, Belarus remains the only republic where the legislation provides for the death penalty.

The people are in favor, lawyers doubt

Recent public opinion polls are in favor of returning to the death penalty as a form of punishment. A poll by the Public Opinion Foundation for 2019 showed that the majority of Russians are in favor of returning to the death penalty: 69% of those surveyed believe that certain crimes should be sentenced to death; moreover, more than half (52%) would return this measure to Russian practice, and more than a third (37%) consider the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in 1996 as the right decision.

A 2021 survey by Levada Center, the largest independent polling center in Russia ( recognized as a foreign agent in the Russian Federation), shows that 41% of Russians believe that the death penalty should be restored “as it was in the early 1990s.” This figure, according to the center, has grown by 10 points in 6 years.

Our editors contacted the National Committee for Public Control, all 67 of whose offices in the regions of Russia recently spoke in favor of lifting the moratorium on the death penalty. "I believe that, given the threats of international terrorism that emanate from our country, it is necessary to temporarily lift the moratorium on the death penalty. The one who blows up children should not be sentenced to life imprisonment, but the death penalty. The terrorist must be destroyed, this can only be stopped by using the death penalty for terrorism. In the United States, those convicted of terrorism are hanged, and for some reason we have to keep them in prisons at public expense. Let the introduction of the death penalty stop 5-10% of terrorists, but this will already be the result!”, - the candidate believes of Law, Major General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Honorary Doctor of Law of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, member of the Russian Union of Lawyers, Chairman of the Board of the National Committee of Public Control Mansur Yusupov. this issue is referred to the Constitutional Court. Everything is quite simple”.

However, there are other opinions among lawyers. “We must take into account: if the process of lifting the moratorium on the death penalty starts, it is likely to stretch for several years. Everything will not be limited to a simple vote in the State Duma, this is a rather laborious procedure. If we talk about the conditions and prerequisites, then the special operation is not among them, because it does not affect the legal system in any way. The transition to modern legislation proceeded in stages, starting from 1993, along the path of humanization”, - political lawyer Oleg Zakharov told NI.

Some even allow a nationwide referendum to lift the moratorium on the death penalty in Russia. This issue was raised, for example, by the head of the commission on international affairs, the leader of the LDPR faction in the State Duma, Leonid Slutsky. But recently, confidence among compatriots has fallen somewhat towards referendums and the voting procedure in general, even deputies admit this and offer an alternative. “If our legislators and discussion in society come to the conclusion that the death penalty should be applied, then for legal purity, in my opinion, in order not to hold a referendum, the issue can be referred to the Constitutional Court. He is absolutely authorized, taking into account the new realities and changes in the law, to revise his decision of 2009 and decide that the courts can issue such sentences”, - said lawyer Artur Airapetov.

Weighing all the pros and cons of the death penalty, experts believe that they are almost equal. The inevitability of the death penalty can of course be a deterrent to crime. An example is China, where they can be executed not only for brutal murders, but also for a bribe or for drug trafficking. By the way, there is a very small percentage of such crimes. In addition, the death penalty is the best way to deal with pedophiles and sex maniacs, who are almost impossible to re-educate. And in conditions of imprisonment, even life, the criminal can run away. In addition, receiving a life sentence, the offender becomes a state dependent, who will be supported until the end of his days at the expense of taxpayers, among whom may be relatives of his victims.

Of the arguments against the death penalty, perhaps the most convincing is the fact that life imprisonment is sometimes worse than the death penalty. The most dangerous criminals or those who pose a threat in prison, such as rapists and pedophiles, are kept in solitary confinement. They will spend their entire lives in a concrete cage, going out for fresh air five times a week.

“I see no need for a return to the death penalty. Life imprisonment is worse than the death penalty or comparable to it. In addition, the death penalty is a step backwards in terms of criminal proceedings", - political lawyer Oleg Zakharov believes.

Lifting the moratorium on the death penalty is largely a political decision. Of course, it will be correlated with what is happening in the world and around our country. The last word belongs to the president, it is he who signs such a decree.