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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 23:27 GMT
Russian Parliament backs death penalty
Duma in Moscow
Duma: 'Premature' to ban death penalty
Russia's parliament has approved by a large majority a non-binding resolution against the abolition of the death penalty.

The State Duma, or lower house, voted 266 to 85 in favour of the resolution, claiming it would be premature for Russia to ratify the sixth protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights which bans the death penalty.

Vladimir Putin
Putin: State has 'no right to grant itself a divine right'
It also pointed to public support for the death penalty, running at two-thirds in favour according to French news agency, AFP.

The resolution was presented by the centrist People's Deputies Party, and is a rare snub for the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has imposed a moratorium on executions since it joined the Council of Europe in 1996.

Blow for Putin

However the Kremlin has so far failed to persuade the Duma to ratify legislation regarding the controversial issue, dealing a blow to Mr Putin's attempt to scrap the death penalty.

In July last year the president had surprised the Russian Government when he said that he felt the state "had no right to grant itself a divine right".

In 1999 under a constitutional court ruling courts were forbidden from imposing death sentences while most Russian regions still did not have jury trials.

However by April 2003 jury trials will have become the norm for serious cases which means courts may start imposing death sentences again.

The resolution passed today urged the Russian Government to put through legislation swiftly so that such courts could begin handing out death sentences.

Although the moratorium means that this resolution will make little difference immediately, opponents of the death penalty fear that President Putin may find it increasingly different to maintain his positon.

See also:

02 Feb 99 | Europe
Russia suspends death penalty
12 Feb 02 | Business
OECD calls for more reform in Russia
15 Feb 02 | Europe
Aids sweeps Russia
11 Feb 02 | Business
Russia hints at oil production rise
30 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Russia
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