Fewer Russian citizens support death penalty - poll

The number of people supporting death penalty gradually decreases in Russia, sociologists of Levada Center told Interfax on Monday upon presenting its poll.

The number of people supporting death penalty gradually decreases in Russia, sociologists of Levada Center told Interfax on Monday upon presenting its poll.

According to the survey held on June 20-23 in 134 cities, towns and villages in 46 Russian regions among 1,600 respondents, currently 52 percent Russians support death penalty, and 61 percent and 73 percent people shared this stance in 2012 and 2002 respectively.

A total of 34 percent Russian citizens said that death penalty application should be left the way it is now, while 18 percent said they were in favor of expanding it.

In the past two years the share of death penalty opponents grew from 24 percent to 33 percent, sociologists said. The number of people absolutely opposed to capital punishment remains almost unchanged - 9 percent respondents said in December 2010 they supported cancelling the death penalty completely, 10 percent in 2012 and 7 percent share this stance now, the poll showed.

At the same time, more respondents support gradual capital punishment cancellation - from 14 percent in 2012 to 26 percent in 2014, sociologists said.

Fifteen per cent respondents still fail to respond in this regard.

According to Levada Center, death penalty is generally more supported by people aged 18-25 (54 percent) and 40-55 (52 percent), men (56 percent), respondents with at least secondary education (57 percent), rural residents (57 percent) and those living in towns (52 percent). Meanwhile, 49 percent Moscow residents said they supported the idea of returning the capital punishment and expanding its application.

The Russian Criminal Code foresees the punishment of life imprisonment to death penalty for a number of especially serious crimes against a person - murder amid mitigating circumstances, making attempt at the life of a state of public figure, law enforcement officer, and genocide.

Death penalty moratorium was introduced in Russia by a presidential order in August 1996 and the country signed a relevant protocol of the European convention on human rights in April 1997. However, the document has not been ratified by the State Duma, so capital punishment has not been cancelled officially but its application is possible in accordance with the Vienna convention on international treaties, which obliges the states signed to comply with it even without ratification.

The moratorium was to end on January 1, 2010 but in November 2009 the Russian Constitutional Court extended it until the Duma ratifies the protocol cancelling the capital punishment and ruled that no courts had the right to return death penalty verdicts.

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