Duma considers re-introducing death penalty following Moscow attack

Deputies in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, have debated whether Russia should reintroduce the death penalty in light of last week’s Crocus City Hall terror attack, in which 139 people were killed and another 182 were injured, state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.

The leader of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and the candidate placing last in this month’s presidential election, Leonid Slutsky, said that a moratorium on capital punishment should be lifted as “the only fitting punishment for these scumbags is the death penalty”.

Sergey Mironov, leader of the socially conservative, social-democratic For a Just Russia party, told reporters that his party would lobby “for a nationwide referendum on 8 September on the reintroduction of the death penalty for these monsters and scoundrels that have no place on this Earth”.

Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that the death penalty had not been abolished “either according to the constitution or criminal law”, adding that as the moratorium was confirmed by the Constitutional Court, there was no need for a referendum on the issue as the court could “simply reverse its ruling”.

While the death penalty is provided for under Russian law, no executions have been carried out since 1996, when then-President Boris Yeltsin decreed a moratorium on its use, which was subsequently upheld by the Constitutional Court in 1999.

Veteran Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov sounded a more cautious note, saying that due to abuse of the criminal justice system, including by law enforcement agencies, the death penalty should remain “an absolutely exceptional measure, even for events like these”.

The Constitutional Court has refused to comment on the proposals to abolish the death penalty in Russia. However, a court representative told state news agency TASS that the court would consider the matter “soon”.

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