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Report No. 35

Appendix XXI

Death Penalty in Russia

Death penalty in Russia for economic offences.-Since the penalty of death is now permissible for certain offences in Russia, it may be useful to summarise the important provisions on the subject. The death penalty was abolished in Russia in 1917, re┬Čintroduced some months later in 1918, re-abolished in 1920 and again re-introduced in 1920, i.e. in the same year.

In May, 1947, it was abolished again, but in January, 1950 it was re-introduced for certain serious crimes (enemies of the regime, traitors, spies and subversive-diversionists). In 1954, it was extended again to murder under aggravating circumstances. This position was repeated in the General Principles of Criminal Legislation laid down in 1958. Thereafter, in 1961-62, it has been extended to certain economic crimes.

For convenience of reference, the present position is given offence wise in the following form1:-




Rape Decree of February 5, 1962 Death penalty can be awarded for aggravated cases of rape (committed by a dangerous recidivist or a gang).
International murder under aggravating circumstances. Edict of April 10, 1954. Aggravating circumstances are not defined. (Reasons for the drastic increase in punishment for murder are not known. In a book on Criminal Law, in 1951 it was stated that murder rate was decreasing continuously). It is also not clear whether the death sentence is mandatory.
Speculation in currency, gold or securities professionally or on a major scale and violation of currency regulations by a person who was already punished for such violation. Decrees of March 25, 1961 and July 1, 1961. Death sentence can be awarded.
Theft and pilfering of State and social property Decree of May 5, 1961 Death sentence can be awarded.
Counterfeiting of currency and securities for scale, or sale of such counterfeit articles. Decree of May 11, 1961. Death sentence can be awarded.
Taking of bribes by an official personally or through intermediary in whatever form, for performing or not performing to the advantage of the persons giving the bribe, an act which the official should have performed in the course of his official duties,-when the crime is committed by a person in responsible position, or by sentenced for bribery, or who has taken bribe several times or has extorted bribe. Decree of February 20, 1962 Death sentence can be awarded.

1. Based on material contained in Gsovski and Grzybowski Government, etc., in the Soviet Union, (1960), Vol. 2, p. 939, text corresponding to foot-notes 39 and 40, and pp. 940 and 941 para. 5, and also on "Economic Crimes in the Soviet Union", Journal of the International Commission of Jurists, (Dec. 1964), 3, at pp. 5, 7 and 8.

Taking of bribe was a capital offence in the Russian Criminal Code of 1922. In 1927, it was changed to imprisonment up to 10 years, which was altered in 1960 to imprisonment up to 5 years for an ordinary offence, and imprisonment up to 10 years for a second conviction or bribery with extortion. The present position is as follows:-



Bribery by minor officials Imprisonment from 3 to 10 years.
Bribery by persons in responsible position, or by confirmed bribe takers, or bribery with extortion. (i) Imprisonment from 8 to 15 years;
(ii) Confiscation of property;
(iii) 2 to 5 years deportation can be added to imprisonment;
(iv) Death sentence in serious cases.

A detailed discussion of the recent developments regarding death penalty in Russia may be quoted1:-

"The death penalty-carried out by shooting-is still considered as "an exceptional punitive measure until its complete abolition" (Article 23). It is useful to be reminded that the death penalty was provided in the same way "provisionally until full abolition" in the Basic Principles of 1924. In May 1947 the death penalty was abolished, but in 1950 it was re-introduced for "treason, espionage and diversion" and in April 1954 also for murder under aggravating circumstances.

Now, according to Article 23 of the Code, the death penalty may be imposed for treason (Article 64), espionage (Article 65), terrorist activities (Articles 66 and 67), diversion (wrecking) (Article 68), banditism and murder under the aggravating circumstances of Articles 102 and 240. By a Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. of May 5, 1961, the death penalty has been extended to the following offences: counterfeiting, embezzlement of State or social property on a particularly large scale, terrorising fellow inmates or attacking the prison administration by especially dangerous criminals in place of detention, organising groups within these places for this purpose or active participation in such gangs.

In times of war or in a warlike situation the death penalty may also be imposed for other especially serious crimes which may be prescribed by the legislation of the U.S.S.R.".

1. Lepenna, New Russian Criminal Code, (1961), 10, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, pp. 421, 437.

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