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Ludmila Alekseeva responds to Kolokoltsev's comments on capital punishment

11 February 2013

Source: (info)
Head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Ludmila Alekseeva has reminded the Minister of Internal Affairs that "we cannot go back to capital punishment, because that would mean we would have to leave the Council of Europe and would signal our international isolation from the modern world, which would be detrimental not only to our economy but also to the very existence of our country in today's global world."

The human rights campaigner added: "We cannot exist if the Iron Curtain comes down again, like it did in Stalin's time. It is interesting what kind of holes we would need to put into the Iron Curtain to enable us to deliver oil and gas through one, and receive money through another, and through a third hole put money into private accounts abroad," cites Interfax.

Alekseeva said that the minister in charge of the security and law enforcement services was entitled to say what he did on this matter as a private individual, "but it would have been better if he had not said it." According to our international obligations, which our Constitution places higher than our laws, we should not have capital punishment in this country. That is why of course any public official, regardless of their personal views, should not publicly express what he did."

According to, Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev in a programme broadcast on NTV, commenting on the murder of young girls in Tatarstan and the Irkutsk Region, gave an unexpected reaction to what the presenter said about the public debate on bringing back capital punishment, saying that he saw "nothing wrong" in capital punishment for horrific crimes: "I fear I might be bringing the wrath of opponents of the death penalty upon myself, but speaking not as a minister, but as a private individual, I wouldn't see anything wrong in it for those types of criminals," he said.

"According to estimates by officials who are involved in our country's prison system, around a third of the people locked up are completely innocent. So if capital punishment is allowed, how many completely innocent people will be sent to their deaths? I think everyone who considers themselves a supporter of the death penalty needs to think about that," Alekseeva said.

The death penalty has not been used in Russia since 1999. Until 2010 there was a moratorium on carrying out death sentences, which was introduced after Russia became a member of the Council of Europe. After the moratorium ran out capital punishment was banned by a decree of the Constitutional Court.