16 February 2007 :Russia has signed the "Declaration of Association" on the death penalty that was presented to the UN by the European Union on December 19th. This was announced in 'Il Velino' by United Nations' sources.
Russia becomes the 88th signatory, after the initial 85 countries and the signing of Namibia and Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago. Russia was the most wanted signature by Italy, which is committed to getting the maximum number of signatories in order to convince the undecided EU countries. This is because the signing of Moscow could influence the other ex Soviet Union nations to sign as well. After the collapse of the regime, some of these countries have abolished the death penalty or unilaterally applied a moratorium on capital punishment.
Azerbaijan, an abolitionist country since 1998, is rumoured to be near to signing the declaration.
During his recent meeting with the African Union, Romano Prodi encouraged Gabon, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo to sign the moratorium. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' objective is to get 97 signatures (the absolute majority of the UN General Assembly) in as short a time as possible, hopefully by the 5-6 March, when the Council of General Affairs makes the final decision on European action. Some EU countries still have reservations. At a technical meeting last week in New York, Denmark and the Netherlands were still hesitant, while Great Britain at least hadn't adopted a negative stand.
During the meeting, amongst other things, Italy proposed to start writing the text of the resolution and to establish times for presenting it to the General Assembly.