11/23/2015, 00.00
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Religious leaders in favor of the death penalty for terrorist offenses

by Nina Achmatova
The proposal came from the Duma, but it has been curbed by the Kremlin. Representatives of the Orthodox Church, and Muslims favorable. Jews and human rights activists against. Russia has a moratorium on capital punishment.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The introduction of the death penalty is possible in some situations, although it would be better to do without it. So says the head of the Department for Relations between Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, who along with some Muslim leaders spoke in favor of the cancellation of the moratorium on the death penalty, as recently proposed by a deputy in the Duma to punish terrorist offenses.

"It would be better to do without the death penalty, but there are situations where the threats to society are too strong and you can use this method for defense", Chaplin told Interfax on November 20, after the attacks in Paris and after Moscow officially acknowledged the terrorist responsibility behind the attack on flight A321 of the Russian airline Metrojet in Sinai.

The representative of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate recalled that the foundations of the Russian Churches’ social policies claim that the death penalty was recognized in the Old Testament and in the New there are no indications on the need to abolish it.

The proposal of a moratorium on the death penalty for terrorism was put forward by the head of the Just Russia party, Sergei Mironov. Immediately after the Russian president's spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, was keen to ensure that the moratorium will not be canceled. "The question about the restoration of the death penalty in Russia should not be led by emotions, but by common sense," echoed Sergei Ivanov, head of the presidential administration.

"We have to discuss and decide on this issue - continued Chaplin - assessing threats, the security levels in society and the various ways to ensure security. Terrorists and also organizations and sponsors of terrorist attacks can and should be eliminated without trial when security organs determine that we are talking about people who represent an imminent public danger".

The supreme mufti of the Central Office of Muslim spiritual center of Russia, Talgat Tajuddin, also expressed his support for the idea. "This is not to introduce a new law but only restore an old one" he said, recalling that the death penalty is prescribed by Islamic law (Sharia).

Instead the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia is completely opposed to the law; according to the head of the public relations department, Boruch Gorin, "anyone who commits murder cannot be stopped by the threat of death."

The historic Russian activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Helsinki Group in Moscow, spoke of an "unacceptable proposal ". Instead the head of the Russian Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, has branded the idea as "populist" ahead of upcoming federal elections scheduled for 2016. "For a jihadist suicide bomber, the threat the sentence of death is as ridiculous as the threat of torture for a masochist" said Fedotov.

The question of the death penalty in Russia is linked to Moscow’s accession to the Council of Europe. One of the requirements for all members is that the death penalty cannot be applied to any crime. In respect to this rule, in 1996, the Council requested Russia implement an immediate moratorium and the complete abolition of the death penalty within three years. In a few months Moscow accepted, making it a member of the Council.

Currently relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, as well as with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, are very tense due to the crisis in Ukraine, so that Moscow has repeatedly threatened to leave.

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