RUSSIA: Humane Gesture

This week Russia announced the abolition of the death penalty in peacetime.

Said the Moscow radio with a self-conscious tremolo: "The historic victory of the Soviet people over the enemy has . . . demonstrated . . . the exceptional devotion of the entire population . . . toward the Soviet motherland. . . . For crimes punishable by the death sentence under laws now in force [the courts will] apply in peacetime confinement in corrective labor camps for 25 years."

Official, fully legal execution has been used rather sparingly in the U.S.S.R. Since estimates of labor-camp prisoners run from five...

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