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    Outgoing PACE chief to urge Moscow to abolish capital punishment

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    MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Council of Europe's top parliamentarian will arrive in Moscow to urge Russia to abolish the death penalty, a source in his organization said on Wednesday.

    Rene van der Linden, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), whose term expires on January 21, will hold negotiations in Moscow on January 17. His last visit to Russia was in December.

    Russia imposed a moratorium on the death penalty shortly after it joined the 47-nation Council of Europe in 1996, but did not formally abolish capital punishment after three years, as its membership of the organization requires.

    Another document that will come under discussion during van der Linden's visit a protocol on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, the subject of an increasing number of inefficiency complaints.

    The protocol enables the court to reject a suit if the damage is insignificant. It also extends a judge's term in office from six to nine years, which observers expect to improve the court's efficiency.

    Under the protocol, one judge, not three, will decide whether the claim is worth considering, which is also expected to accelerate the process.

    In December, Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, turned down the protocol, saying some provisions were unacceptable for Moscow, a move that froze the reforms.

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