[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 [JURIST] of the COE Committee of Ministers, sparking more calls to ban the death penalty [JURIST report] altogether. MosNews has more.