Strasbourg, France, June 28 (RFE/RL) -- The Council of Europe
today warned Russia, Ukraine and Latvia that they risk expulsion from
the human rights body if they do not immediately halt executions and
abolish the death penalty.
In a strongly-worded resolution, the Council's Parliamentary
Assembly sitting in Strasbourg, France, condemned the three countries
for continuing to carry out executions of criminals.
It condemned them for not living up to commitments they gave the
Council upon admission, that they would immediately stop executions
and abolish capital punishment.
The Council, which many newly-democratic countries regard as an
important signal of their acceptance in the West, said Russia,
Ukraine and Latvia could be suspended or even expelled if they
continue to carry out executions.
The Council also called on Lithuania to institute a moratorium on
executions without delay.
Moldova was singled out for praise for having abolished capital
punishment shortly after it joined the Council last year.
During debate on a report which said Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reportedly rejected 46 appeals for pardons from death-row inmates this year, Sergei Kovalev, formerly Yeltsin's advisor on human
rights, welcomed the Council's pressure on the Russian government.
What he called the "barbaric habit" of capital punishment, must be
ended, he said. But a Ukrainian communist, Boris Oliynik, said the
Ukrainian public would not accept abolition of capital punshment
because they believe it is a deterrent against crime.