Press review: Russia mulls reinstituting death penalty and Paris raises terror alert level

  MOSCOW:  Russian legislators mull reinstating capital punishment in the wake of the deadly Crocus City Hall terrorist attack; France is ra...

 


MOSCOW:  Russian legislators mull reinstating capital punishment in the wake of the deadly Crocus City Hall terrorist attack; France is raising its terror alert level; and Russian forces continue to strike energy infrastructure across Ukraine. These stories topped Tuesday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.

Izvestia: Russian lawmakers consider bringing back death penalty in wake of terror attack

The terrorist attack on a suburban Moscow concert hall that has so far claimed 139 lives has sparked debate in Russia over lifting the country’s moratorium on the death penalty. The ruling United Russia party has expressed its readiness to discuss introducing a fair punishment for terrorists, with Vladimir Vasilyev, who heads the party’s faction in the lower house State Duma, explaining that such a decision would "be in line with the sentiment and expectations in our society."

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A first step toward such a move may involve initiating relevant discussions with experts and parliamentarians under the auspices of the Russian Civic Chamber, a consultative body for assessing draft legislation, State Duma member Alexander Spiridonov (United Russia) told Izvestia. "If such a bill is submitted to the State Duma and preparations for voting begin, and also, if parliament sends that to the Civic Chamber, we will discuss it in accordance with the law and hold 'zero readings,'" said Maxim Grigoryev, first deputy head of the Civic Chamber’s public monitoring commission.


Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov underscored on Monday that the Kremlin was not involved in discussions on lifting the moratorium on the death penalty. In 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his opposition to reinstating capital punishment.


Judicially, it would be quite difficult to lift the ban on the death penalty, experts acknowledge. Russia banned capital punishment back in 1997, soon after joining the Council of Europe. The moratorium in Russia is indefinite and is enshrined in Constitutional Court decisions, and therefore Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe would not have any impact on that, Andrey Klishas, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation and Statehood in the upper house Federation Council, explained earlier. According to him, the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the death penalty envisions neither waivers nor any possibility of lifting the moratorium in individual cases, thus making any changes here impossible without a new ruling on the matter by the Constitutional Court.


While Russian lawmakers, indeed, would not have the option of overriding the Constitutional Court’s veto, they do have the authority to work directly with the high court, enact new laws or even amend the Constitution, attorney Alexander Zorin said. Separately, he reminded Izvestia that while juries must be established nationwide in order to apply capital punishment, no juries have been established in the new Russian regions yet. However, even if legislative initiatives to reintroduce capital punishment are approved, it would still not be possible to apply the death penalty to the terrorists who attacked Crocus City Hall, as criminal law cannot have a retroactive effect, he lamented.


Vedomosti: France raises terror alert level, invites Russia to share intel on terrorists

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced a decision on March 24 to raise the country’s security alert warning to the highest level. The announcement came after French President Emmanuel Macron convened a meeting of the Defense and National Security Council in the wake of the March 22 terrorist attack in Moscow.


A high level terror alert was already in place in the country ahead of the Paris Olympics, which will run from July 26 through August 11, said Arnaud Dubien, head of the French-Russian Observo think tank. Attempts at terror attacks were thwarted not long before the Crocus City Hall attack, and instability remains, with the terrorist threat only growing, he said.



According to Dubien, France has already extended its hand to Russia in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization (or IS, banned in Russia), and channels for communication, especially in combatting terrorism, remain open, despite tensions with Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.


EU countries are facing terrorism threats and ensuring security is key, said Artyom Sokolov, a researcher at the Center for European Studies at the Institute of International Relations at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University). Recent years have seen acts of terror in Europe, too, as a consequence of growing migrant flows. In 2021, fully one-third (five out of 15) terrorist attacks in the European Union occurred in France, according to the European Council.


Meanwhile, representatives of Western countries appear eager to stick up for Ukraine and deflect any blame from Kiev by insisting it was not behind the Moscow terrorist attack, Denis Denisov, an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, told Vedomosti. However, Ukraine has experience in carrying out terrorist attacks and the necessary resources for such activity. In addition, the Ukrainian intelligence services are known to maintain very close cooperation with their respective counterparts in Great Britain and the United States. Moreover, according to Denisov, the seeming rush to judgment by Western officials, who have stated emphatically that Kiev was not involved in the deadly attack, appears rather surprising given that no official investigative results have yet been released.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russian forces continue to hit energy infrastructure across Ukraine

Russian forces have been attacking Ukrainian energy facilities since the start of this week. And last week, Ukraine lost half of its power generation capacity following Russian attacks as part of the Russian Defense Ministry’s retaliation campaign. And, yet, Russia may still target the half of Ukraine’s energy capacities that remains operational in the wake of last week’s deadly Moscow terrorist attack, in which Moscow suspects Kiev played a behind-the-scenes role, experts warn.


In the early morning hours of March 25, Russian drones attacked two electricity substations in southern Ukraine, the Ukrenergo national grid company said. Electricity workers had to extend the power blackout period in Odessa and the adjacent region. However, Kiev has recognized the Russian attacks on Friday morning as part of strikes ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry in response to Ukrainian attacks inside Russia and on borderline villages as the most massive and effective to date.


Ukrainian military expert Pyotr Chernik sees the link between retaliatory Russian strikes and Ukrainian attacks on Russian oil refineries and borderline areas, including in the Belgorod Region. It is important for Moscow to draw Russians’ attention away from such Ukrainian attacks, he argues.


To Igor Yushkov, an expert at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, explaining the recent Russian strikes by the need to retaliate looks more convincing, as well. However, many experts wondered why Russia discontinued attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in the 2023-2024 heating season. Had Russia delivered attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure in that period, they could have been more effective, and Ukraine’s power grid system would have suffered more overload and damage, he added.

Media: Gazprom to acquire Shell’s Sakhalin-2 stake instead of Novatek

Sakhalin Project LLC, a Gazprom subsidiary, will buy a 27.45% stake in Sakhalin Energy, the Sakhalin-2 operator, for 94.8 bln rubles ($1 bln) under a government decision published on March 25. Earlier, the stake had been held by British-Dutch oil major Shell, and Russian independent gas giant Novatek was planning to acquire it.


Igor Yushkov, a leading analyst at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, told Vedomosti that, in fact, only Novatek and Gazprom could vie for Shell’s assets in Sakhalin-2 in any case. As Novatek continues to focus its business on international markets, the company may have decided to walk away from the deal amid heightened legal risks, the expert added.


While Ronald Smith, senior analyst at BCS World of Investments, doubted that the acquisition would earn Gazprom much more profit in an interview with Vedomosti, the decision to sell the stake to the state-run gas giant does not look unexpected to independent expert Alexander Sobko. Gazprom will not have difficulty finding 94 bln rubles for the purchase even amid the financial difficulties it is currently facing, as the company would acquire the stake at a discount that should be quickly recouped, he explained. "It is too early to say exactly how the company will sell more LNG, but the low price of the deal reduces the risk under any purchase-and-sale mechanism," the analyst told Kommersant.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Hours of sleep contracting globally, leading to productivity losses

The falling number of hours spent sleeping globally is harmful to the world economy, which is losing hundreds of billions of dollars. According to the latest studies, the Chinese sleep less than seven hours per day on average, or almost two hours less than they did 12 years ago. Russian citizens sleep a little more than eight hours per day on average, Russian state statistics agency Rosstat said. However, they have been increasingly compensating for a lack of sleep at night with pauses in their work and a general decrease in productivity.


US studies show that losses from employees’ lack of sleep exceed $400 bln, while the figure hovers around $140 bln in Japan and tops $60 bln in Germany. While the monetary damage has not been assessed in Russia yet, insurers have reported significant payouts associated with illnesses caused by a lack of sleep.


The key reason behind falling night sleep is the wider use of various gadgets and social media and a general increase in stress levels.


Rosstat measures the average length of sleep in Russia once every five years. Surveys conducted in the past decade have shown that the proper time of sleep excluding "related activity" is often below the recommended level, with men sleeping almost 20 minutes less than women, according to Superjob.ru.


"A decrease in the average time of sleep to less than six hours is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, dementia, certain cancers and other diseases, while death rates increase by 1.7 times for sure," Roman Buzunov, president of the Russian Society of Somnologists, warns.


"The majority of adults aged between 25 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep, while seven hours is an optimal time for the cardiovascular system," Yevgeny Shlyakhto, visiting cardiologist at the Russian Health Ministry, reminded Nezavisimaya Gazeta.


The reason behind the trend toward reduced sleep in Russia is the same as elsewhere: the widespread penetration of electronic gadgets into daily life, the Internet and social networks. Surveys show that more than 40% of Russians consider themselves overly reliant on gadgets.


-News Feed

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Local Glob: Press review: Russia mulls reinstituting death penalty and Paris raises terror alert level
Press review: Russia mulls reinstituting death penalty and Paris raises terror alert level
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