Russian lawmakers discuss lifting moratorium on death penalty after concert hall attack

MOSCOW, March 27: Russian lawmakers called on Tuesday to lift the moratorium on the death penalty following last week’s attack on a concert hall in the Moscow region, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

Speaking at a plenary session of Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma (Federal Assembly), its chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said all the necessary legislation exists and it is up to the Constitutional Court to decide.

“In our constitution and criminal legislation, no one has abolished the death penalty. There is a decision of the Constitutional Court, which postponed the imposition of such a sentence. 

“Therefore, there is no need for any referendums. The decision of the Constitutional Court on this issue is enough,” he said.

Volodin noted that the issue was raised due to public discussions to inform society what the current situation is and what entity is responsible for making the necessary decisions.

“Of course, any decisions must be made with a cool head after calculating all the consequences,” he stressed.

Volodin highlighted that the questions appeared on the agenda of the State Duma’s plenary session at the request of heads of factions.

He reminded that the Constitutional Court adopted the decision to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in fulfilment of international obligations to the Council of Europe, noting that since Russia has left the organisation, there are no barriers to reneging on it.

Calls to lift the moratorium on the death penalty began after at least 139 people were killed and more than 180 were injured on March 22 when gunmen opened fire at Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast.

The Investigative Committee said it detained 11 people, including four perpetrators, in the border region of Bryansk, who were on their way to Ukraine.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court late Sunday charged the four perpetrators with terrorism and approved their pre-trial detentions until May 22.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum in June 2022, the chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, said the return of the death penalty in Russia could only take place if a new constitution is adopted.

The Russian Constitutional Court banned death sentences in 1999 and confirmed its decision in 2009.

The last death sentence in Russia was carried out in 1996. The name of the executed was not officially announced, but according to media reports, serial killer Sergey Golovkin was shot for brutally torturing and killing 11 boys between 1986 and 1992.