Russian officials have rejected the possibility of a return of the death penalty in Russia, after the Interior Minister Vladamir Kolokoitsev said that he saw nothing wrong with it.
After remarking on two recent murders of young girls in Russia, Kokoloitsev said that in some unique cases the death penalty would be the normal reaction of society. Kokoloitsev stressed that this was a personal view and not an official view related to his position. As the Interior Minister Kolokoitsev is the top policeman in Russia.
Vladimi Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that the president's position on the issue is established and consistent. At present there is a moratorium on the death penalty as part of Russia's obligations as a member of the Council of Europe. Peskov stressed that Kolokoitsev was expressing only his personal opinion and that media should not distort the news and take his comments as an official position.
The speaker of the Lower House, Sergey Naryshkin also spoke out against the return of the death penalty. Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the State Duma Legislative Committee also opposed any return of the punishment saying: “The state should not become a tool for revenge." Officials in the Prosecutor General's Office told reporters that Russia was obliged not to impose the death penalty as a member of the Council of Europe.
Members from two opposition parties, the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic party, supported the death penalty and called the moratorium wrong. Head of the Upper House committee for Security and Defense, Viktor Ozerov told Interfax that his private opinion was the same as that of Kolokoitsev and he claimed the majority of Russian citizens. He suggested that Russia should hold a referendum on the issue without considering the position of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe requires that members not impose the death penalty. As a result Russia has had a moratorium on the imposition of the penalty for the last 15 years. However, Russian politicians keep bringing the matter up and suggesting that the death penalty was appropriate for certain crimes. During the Soviet era, the Soviet regime at first abolished the punishment but later allowed it for certain crimes and during the Stalinist regime there were many executions often on political grounds. Marx himself opposed capital punishment . Speaking of the theory of punishment of Kant and Hegel he wrote in the New York Tribune newspaper no less: Is it not a delusion to substitute for the individual with his real motives, with multifarious social circumstances pressing upon him, the abstraction of “free-will” — one among the many qualities of man for man himself! This theory, considering punishment as the result of the criminal’s own will, is only a metaphysical expression for the old “jus talionis” [the right of retaliation by inflicting punishment of the same kind] eye against eye, tooth against tooth, blood against blood. Plainly speaking, and dispensing with all paraphrases, punishment is nothing but a means of society to defend itself against the infraction of its vital conditions, whatever may be their character. Now, what a state of society is that, which knows of no better Instrument for its own defense than the hangman, and which proclaims through the “leading journal of the world” its own brutality as eternal law?
NOTE: Marx's reference to the leading journal of the world is The Times (London). Marx's article was originally published in 1853.
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