Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed strong opposition Monday to the death penalty, saying Russia should not restore executions despite public support for them.

“The state must not claim the right to take human life away, which belongs only to the Almighty,” Putin said during a Kremlin meeting with World Bank President James Wolfensohn, according to various Russian news agencies.
Russia introduced a moratorium on the death penalty in 1996 as a condition for entrance to the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights watchdog. However, Russia has not banned capital punishment entirely.
Putin said he believes the turmoil of the past decade since the break-up of the Soviet Union has contributed to recent opinion poll results showing most Russians support reviving the death penalty.

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