EXTERNAL AI Index: EUR 46/49/96
UA 253/96 Death penalty 1 November 1996
RUSSIAN FEDERATION455 people at risk of execution despite official commitment
Amnesty International fears for the lives of 455 people under sentence of death
in the Russian Federation, whose petitions are pending decision with the Russian
Presidential Clemency Commission.
Amnesty International fears that their lives are in danger despite the fact
that the Russian Federation committed, on joining the Council of Europe on
28 February 1996, "to sign within one year and ratify within three years from
the time of accession Protocol no.6 of the Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms on the abolition of the death penalty,
and put into place, with immediate effect from the day of accession, a moratorium
on executions" (Parliamentary Assembly Opinion 190, 1995).
At a press conference on 24 September 1996, Anatoly Pristavkin, head of the
Russian Presidential Clemency Commission, said that 53 people have been executed
in Russia since Russia joined the Council of Europe. There are fears that
executions are continuing to this day.
At the same press conference Valery Borshev, representative of a public
consultative body on human rights under the President, said that according
to research carried out in Russia, judicial errors were made in 30 per cent
of death penalty cases.
Anatoly Pristavkin told Amnesty International on 24 October 1996 that there
are 455 people under sentence of death awaiting consideration of their petitions
for clemency with the Clemency Commission. According to the Head of the
Commission, even if the Commission should recommend clemency, the President
does not always grant it. President Yeltsin reportedly turned down 46 petitions
for clemency in February and April 1996 and since then the Clemency Commission
has not passed any cases on to the President.
In violation of the law, the Presidential Administration reportedly passed
clemency petitions directly to the President, without informing the Clemency
Commission. In May 1996, President Yeltsin reportedly refused to grant
clemency to 22 or 23 prisoners. None of these petitions for clemency had been
previously reviewed by the Clemency Commission.
According to the information available to Amnesty International, as of the
beginning of 1996 about 700 people were under sentence of death in the Russian
Federation. Some of them are still awaiting the outcome of their appeals through
the courts and have not yet submitted petitions for clemency.
On 4 October, Vyacheslav Lebedev, chairman of the Russian Federation Supreme
Court, said on Russian television that 73 people have been sentenced to death
so far this year. He also said that in the first six months of 1996 the Supreme
Court considered appeals in 116 death penalty cases.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/telegrams/express/airmail letters in
Russian/English/own language, in equal numbers to the four addressees:
To the President:
- urging President Yeltsin to grant clemency to the 455 prisoners on death
row, and insisting that he immediately cease signing all execution orders,