Moscow, January 8, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its opposition to Russia resuming the practice of capital punishment.
"I don't think we should return to what was in the past and resume the death penalty, because this institution will lead neither to fewer crimes, nor any positive shift in public consciousness whatsoever," Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, said on the Church and the World program on Rossiya-24 television channel.
Late last month the website of the Russian Constitutional Court published a book by its chairman Valery Zorkin, entitled Constitutional Justice: Procedure and Meaning, suggesting that Russia could lift its moratorium on the death penalty, but hopefully will not.
In Metropolitan Hilarion's opinion, someone who is going to commit a terrorist attack or any other crime punishable by death is not normally afraid of death, and if they are, the Criminal Code stipulating the death penalty would not prevent them from committing the crime.
Nor should one forget of the "horrendous crimes" committed in the USSR during 1920-1930s when people were sentenced to death by the special troika with "the head of state signing off lists for firing squad," the metropolitan said. "I don't think this is something we should return to, at least for the sake of memory for those who fell innocent victim to the flywheel of Stalinist repressions."
Finally, a judge's error can never be ruled out, he said, noting that the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable.
"It seems to me that our own sad history, with mass executions and later rehabilitations, should teach us that we must not repeat these mistakes," the hierarch said.