CCR №5 (138) 2020
Between hammer and anvil: the Russian Constitutional Court’s position on the abolition of the death penalty

The full text of the article is available only in Russian.

Abstract

The key factor in maintaining a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia is its membership in the Council of Europe, which requires compliance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the abolition of the death penalty. One of the proponents of maintaining Russia’s adherence to the Convention is the Russian Constitutional Court. However, the return of the death penalty as a capital punishment finds some support in Russia. Therefore, the Constitutional Court has to maintain a balance between two forces: internal pressure from public opinion and a number of conservative government representatives, and fidelity to the fundamental principles of the Russian Constitution and international law, backed up by international obligations undertaken by Russia. The purpose of this article is to identify and analyze contradictions among the priorities of the Russian Constitutional Court in its implementation of foreign and domestic legal policy through a political and legal analysis of its argumentation regarding the abolition of the death penalty. In turn, full-fledged analysis of the Court’s argument is possible only by taking into account the domestic and international contexts. The article is structured as follows: firstly, it examines the evolution of the question of the abolition of the death penalty in Russia and the main decisions of the Russian Constitutional Court related to the introduction and maintenance of a moratorium on the death penalty. Secondly, it examines the domestic context of decisions taken by the Court from the perspective of key actors (the professional community, government officials, public opinion). Thirdly, it considers the international context of decision-making (the development of relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, the Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as foreign experience with the issue of abolition of the death penalty). In conclusion, the article analyzes the main arguments of the Russian Constitutional Court to justify the need to abolish the death penalty and discusses the role of the Constitutional Court in resolving the death penalty issue.

About the author:
Olga Komshukova — Lawyer, Ph.D. Student, Graduate School of Political Sciences, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Citation: Komshukova O. (2020) Mezhdu molotom i nakoval’ney: pozitsiya Konstitutsionnogo Suda RF po voprosu neprimeneniya smertnoy kazni [Between hammer and anvil: the Russian Constitutional Court’s position on abolition of the death penalty]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.5, pp.112–133. (In Russian).

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