Sixty percent of Russian citizens deem death penalty acceptable - poll

Sixty percent of Rusian citizens, compared to 80% in 2001, see the death penalty as an acceptable punishment, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation

Sixty percent of Rusian citizens, compared to 80% in 2001, see the death penalty as an acceptable punishment, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation.

The poll was held on April 11 and 12 among 1,500 respondents in 100 localities of 43 regions.

Twenty-two percent of those polled, compared to 16% in 2001, said the death penalty was unacceptable.

Seventeen percent of those surveyed were undecided.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that the death penalty can only be applied to criminals who have committed sexual violence against minors, 57% said this punishment can be applied to murderers, 55% to terrorists, 46% to rapists and 34% to drug traffickers.

Among other cited crimes deserving capital punishment were high treason and disclosure of state secrets (15%), espionage (9%), bribe-taking (8%), robbery and banditry (5%), desecration of religious relics (4%) and tax evasion (1%).

Forty-one percent of those polled said that the moratorium on the death penalty was a wrong decision. Thirty-three percent of respondents upheld it and 26% were undecided.

Asked whether the death penalty should be restored in Russia 49% of those polled answered in the affirmative, 5% said it should be annulled altogether, 27% would like the moratorium to be maintained and 19% were undecided.

Those who want the death penalty to be used again argued that the current crime rate was too high, or that those committing grave crimes must be duly punished (13% each). Others are convinced that people will fear the death penalty (9%), and still others said that the taxpayers\' money is being used to upkeep criminals at prisons and that criminals often escape punishment (4% each).

The smallest group who advocate the annulment of the death penalty said court errors were likely, that no one has the right to kill, that death is too easy a punishment for a criminal, or that capital punishment is inhuman (1% each ).

The death penalty is not legally banned in Russia. In 1996, when Russia joined the Council of Europe, it imposed a moratorium on the death penalty and replaced it with life imprisonment. The moratorium would have expired on January 1 2010, but it was extended by the Constitutional Court in November 2009 pending ratification of the protocol banning the death penalty.

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