Death penalty cannot be restored - Presidential Human Rights Council

Speculation about the restoration of the death penalty in Russia could be given a practical turn only in one case, if the Constitution is "re-written," said head of the Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov.

"When we imposed a moratorium on the death penalty we actually abolished it, which has been recognized by the Constitutional Court. Theoretically, speculation may continue. But if the speculation is to be given a practical turn, a new constitution would have to be adopted," he told Interfax on Sunday.

"This issue was closed by the Constitutional Court, whose resolutions have the supreme legal force and cannot be scrapped," he said.

Fedotov was commenting on Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev's statement in a program on NTV television that, as a citizen, he does not see anything wrong in exercising the death penalty for brutal crimes.

"I may incur anger from opponents of the death penalty. But as a citizen, not as a minister, I don't think it would be wrong to exercise this punishment for such criminals," he said on a program, broadcast for Russia's eastern regions on Sunday evening.

Kolokoltsev's statement came in the wake of reports about the murder of girls in Tatarstan and Irkutsk Region and in reaction to the host of the program Kirill Pozdnyakov's remark that the public has been increasingly in favor of restoring the death penalty.

A law enforcement official of such a rank has the right to speak his mind on the restoration of the death penalty, said Fedotov.

"Each citizen has the constitutional right to express his opinion openly. Everyone has the right to adhere to his personal opinions and to express them freely," he said.

"Crimes committed by pedophiles deserve the hardest of punishments. But the death penalty has nothing to do with this. It is a punishment that is not envisioned in the Constitution in its current form. The Constitution says that the death penalty is applied as an exclusive measure up to its full annulment," Fedotov said.

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