The Council of Europe welcomed on Thursday a decision by Russia's Constitutional Court to extend a moratorium on capital punishment.
The court said that the ban, introduced in 1999, had begun an "irreversible process" toward the abolition of the death penalty in the country. The 1999 decision imposed a moratorium until jury trials were introduced in all of Russia's regions.
Chechnya, the only region where jury trials are not available, is due to introduce them on January 1, 2010.
However, Constitutional Court chairman Valery Zorkin said that the introduction of jury trials in Chechnya "does not make it possible to apply the death penalty on Russian territory" as Russia has signed international agreements banning the death penalty.
"I warmly welcome today's announcement by the Constitutional Court on the death penalty," Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland said in a statement.
"The death penalty is an unacceptable form of punishment, and its abolishment is an obligation of all members of the Council of Europe."
'The Constitutional Court's announcement is an important step toward the complete abolishment of the death penalty," the statement also said.
Russia undertook to scrap capital punishment when it joined the Council of Europe in 1996 and signed Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Russian parliament has yet to ratify the protocol.
The Council of Europe also said that it hoped Russia would ratify Protocol 6 in the near future.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov also hailed the court's move, calling it a "sensible and considered decision."
He also said that the court had taken the decision taking into account the opinions of Russia's leaders.
The Chechen leader also said that he believed the best punishment for people who carried out crimes such as terrorism was imprisonment in a "concrete cell without the right to contact friends and family."
"In this way, he will soon dream of his speedy death," he added.
The ultra-nationalist LDPR party, which opposes the country's membership of the Council of Europe, said it was against abolishing the death penalty in Russia.
"The death penalty is necessary at the current stage of the development of Russian society," a party spokesman said.
MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti)