Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 127

The controversy over Ukraine’s obligation to abolish the death penalty continued into Wednesday, one day after the Supreme Council voted to approve the terms of the country’s admission to the Council of Europe as a full member. At the center of the storm is the new Justice minister Serhii Holovaty. Holovaty, a young multilingual lawyer with solid European credentials and opposed to capital punishment, called for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty. But many deputies strongly favor its retention. The parliament’s foreign affairs commission chairman Borys Oliinyk objected that Ukraine had three years to strike capital punishment from the books and did not have to suspend it upon official acceptance into the Council, scheduled to occur on November 9. The new Prosecutor-General, Hryhor Vorsynov, called Holovaty’s remarks "populistic" and said Ukraine is not ready to do away with capital punishment.

"Populistic," in fact, was not the most accurate choice of words, since opinion polls in Ukraine show that most of the population is on Vorsynov’s side of the issue. Worse for Holovaty, members of president Leonid Kuchma’s administration let it be known that the justice minister was not within his authority to make such statements. (9)

The Council of Europe requires newly admitted countries to abolish the death penalty. In Ukraine, only the Supreme Council can abolish the sentence. Perhaps Holovaty, long a member of the national-democratic faction in parliament, has not completely shed his deputy’s habits.

Sevastopol In Crimea, Crimea In Ukraine.