Sergei Mironov, the Speaker of Russia's Council of Federation, said at a press conference, 'At the last-held session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Russia for the first time was present as a full member'. He added Russia was not criticised for the first time and that European Parliamentarians 'noted the positive results of Vladimir Putin's presidency, saying Russia was having her first in 10 years economic upsurge and trying to fulfil her obligations as a PACE member'. The key issue, Mr. Mironov believes, remains the signing by Russia of the protocol banning death penalty. The Speaker said Russia had a moratorium on capital punishment and for the measure to become permanent the current Criminal Code had to be amended. In the meantime, Mr. Mironov added, Russia could hardly be expected to fully conform to all PACE norms within such a short time and that 'just 10 years ago Russia was a totally different country. This is why for now we still have problems as goes the realisation by everyone of the rights and liberties of man'. By this the speaker again meant the final banning of capital punishment, saying that crime being rampant in the country, there was a great number of people who wanted to preserve death penalty. Mr. Mironov said just several years ago, he too opposed abolishing death penalty. Later, however, he realised that as long as criminals knew that court-prescribed retribution was inevitable and instead of death penalty there was life in prison without parole or pardon, capital punishment could be abolished.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the termination of diplomatic relations with NATO at a time when US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ended a meeting in Georgia with his counterpart