[JURIST] The Russian State Duma [official website] has effectively extended [JURIST report] a national moratorium on the death penalty [Pravda report] until 2010 by postponing until then the establishment of jury trials in Chechnya [BBC backgrounder], the only territory in Russia that still uses three-judge panels in criminal hearings. The Russian Constitutional Court ruled [decision summary] in 1999 that the death penalty cannot be enforced against those who have not been convicted and sentenced by a jury. The moratorium was originally set to expire at the end of 2006, pursuant to a 1996 law that prohibited death sentences for a ten-year period. Analysts predict the new measure will become law, easily passing approval by the Federation Council [official website] and President Vladimir Putin. While jury trials were originally set to be the norm in Chechnya in 2007, "technical problems" in the war-torn region have prevented their inauguration.
The Russian death penalty has drawn repeated criticism [JURIST report] from the Council of Europe [official website], which has pressured Russia to abolish it completely. In 1997, Russia signed a Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights [text] agreeing to abolish the death penalty, but pressure from conservatives at home prevented its ratification. Earlier this year, Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship of the COE Committee of Ministers, sparking more calls to ban the death penalty [JURIST report] altogether. MosNews has more.