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Council of Europe urges Russia to abolish death penalty before assuming presidency

[JURIST] The Council of Europe [official website] on Wednesday repeated its calls that Russia officially abolish the death penalty [JURIST news archive]. There have been no executions in Russia for over ten years as the result of a moratorium imposed by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin [Wikipedia profile] as part of Russia's entry agreement with the COE. COE monitors, however, on Wednesday called for an official end to capital punishment as Russia prepares to assume the six-month chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers [official website], the COE's decision making body. Russia is expected to take the chairmanship next month.

The COE's statements were met with some resistance in Russia. Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian Duma [official website], said Wednesday that there was not enough support in parliament to abolish the death penalty. Leaders of two influential national parties and members of the communist party have recently called for the re-instatement of the death penalty. The European Convention on Human Rights [text] outlaws the death penalty [COE backgrounder], and the COE has encouraged non-European states to abolish the practice [JURIST report] as well, most recently calling on the US and Japan to set an example for other countries by abolishing capital punishment. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

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