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Soviet Plan Would Abolish Internal Exile

November 09, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — The justice minister today announced proposals to abolish the use of internal exile as punishment, reduce the number of death penalty offenses and shorten the maximum prison term.

Justice Minister Boris V. Kravtsov disclosed the proposed changes during a Tass press agency interview.

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's campaign for perestroika, or restructuring of Soviet society, has called on the government to appropriately revise the 30-year-old criminal code, Kravtsov said.

"Over this time, there have been vast changes in the country's life, and they must be reflected legislatively," he said.

"It is suggested reducing the scope of crimes to be punished by death, abolish exile and banishment provisions, and slash maximum prison terms to 10 years from the current 15."

Soviets convicted of major non-capital crimes now face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, possibly followed by terms in internal exile.

Internal exile and banishment from major cities have been used as punishment since the birth of the Soviet Union 70 years ago. Dissidents have regularly been ordered into internal exile after serving sentences at labor camps or prisons.

Any new criminal code would have to be approved by the Supreme Soviet, the nominal parliament, on the recommendation of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Kravtsov did not say which offenses would be removed from the capital punishment list.

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