Russia May Update Capital Punishment Laws For Terrorists

The Kremlin last week said it would not get involved in the discussions about imposing the death penalty for the suspects charged in connection to the March 22 concert hall terrorist attack in Moscow, Reuters reported.

Russian authorities arrested four men for the deadly attack at the Crocus concert hall in which more than 130 people were killed and over 180 were wounded.

The attack, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, was the deadliest attack on Russian soil since the 2004 Beslan school siege in which Chechen rebels killed over 330 people.

Some Russian hardliners have called for the death penalty for the four suspects.

Vladimir Vasilyev, the leader of the Russian Duma, was quoted in the Russian news agency TASS saying that many have asked about imposing the death penalty on the terrorists.

Hardliner Dmitry Medvedev discussed the issue on his Telegram channel on March 25, suggesting that the suspected terrorists should and must be killed for their crimes.

However, in a March 26 press briefing, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin would not take part in the debate “at the moment.”

While capital punishment is legal in Russia, there have been no executions since 1996 when then-President Boris Yeltsin issued a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty. Yeltsin’s decree was then confirmed in 1999 by the Constitutional Court.

Under the current penal code in Russia, the death penalty is allowed in only five offenses, murder, the attempted murder of a state official, law enforcement officer, or judge, and genocide.

The four men accused in the Crocus attack appeared in a Moscow court on March 24. According to the court, two of the defendants admitted their guilt in the attack after they were charged in the hearing.

The men, all from Tajikistan, were ordered to remain in custody until a May 22 trial.