Russian Church opposes Belarusian death penalty


Eastern Europe


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The introduction of the death penalty in Belarus is not a good idea, says Metropolitan Hilarion. The Russian Orthodox Bishop says it is dangerous, given the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

At the end of April, Belarusian deputies adopted a bill on amendments to the criminal code in two readings, suggesting the possibility of applying the death penalty for attempted terrorist attacks. The upper house of the parliament of Belarus then approved the bill.

Hilarion is not content with these developments. "There was a period in the Soviet Union when mass executions were carried out. Afterwards, the state had to rehabilitate those people who were unjustly executed", explains Hilarion in the Christian TV program on the Russia 24 TV channel. "The fact is that this rehabilitation cannot help a person who has been deprived of his life; at least this factor alone should make legislators think that a judicial error may occur."

The Metropolitan noted that the official position of the Russian Orthodox Church on the death penalty is expressed in the document "The basis of the social concept of the Russian Orthodox Church", which was adopted in 2000. "The Church can only remind here of the responsibility that the judiciary and executive bodies bear for every person's life," the Metropolitan said. This reports the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.

In March, the Russian Orthodox Church openly criticised the possible establishment of capital punishment in Russia. When Russia withdrew from the Council of Europe on March 15th, former president Medvedev said the withdrawal was "a good opportunity to restore several important institutions to prevent especially serious crimes in the country - such as the death penalty for the most dangerous criminals". According to Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy chairman of the Synodal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for relations between the Church, society and the media, the absence of the death penalty "opens up opportunities for pastoral work with those sentenced to life imprisonment".



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