The Russian Duma on March 14 rejected a bill that would have placed a moratorium on capital punishment pending eventual abolition of the death penalty. The bill, which was drafted by the Yabloko faction, was defeated by 176 votes to 75. Yabloko’s Vladimir Lukin said parliament’s fear of taking an unpopular decision meant that a moratorium would be introduced by presidential decree. Otherwise, Russia will next year face the threat of exclusion from the Council of Europe. (Interfax, March 14) The Duma justifies its rejection of a moratorium by saying that the Russian public opposes such a move. A recent public opinion poll did indeed suggest that only 14 percent of Russians favor abolition of the death penalty. However, only 30 percent of those questioned insisted that Russia should retain capital punishment regardless of the consequences, while 50 percent said Russia should act in accordance with the Council of Europe’s demands. (Interfax, March 14)
Yeltsin Maintains Criticism of NATO.