Immediately begin with the fact that it was Soviet Russia to maximally humanize the pre-revolutionary criminal law, including in the direction of the criminal responsibility of minors. For example, under Peter I, the lower age limit for criminal responsibility was established. He was only seven years old. It was from seven years old the child could be brought to justice. In 1885, juveniles between the ages of ten and seventeen could be convicted if they understood the meaning of the acts committed, that is, not for all criminal offenses and depending on personal development.
The possibility of criminal prosecution of minors remained until the October Revolution. Only 14 of January 1918 was adopted by the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR “On commissions for minors”. In accordance with this document, criminal responsibility was incurred from 17 years, and from 14 to 17 years, criminal cases were heard by the commission on juvenile affairs, which decided on educational measures regarding the minor. As a rule, minors tried to re-educate with all possible efforts and to prevent their being put in prison, where they could fall under the influence of more adult criminals.
In the famous "Republic of Shkid" it was just about many young criminals and offenders. They were re-educated in the "Shkida", but they were not subjected to just criminal penalties, i.e. - did not put in prison or camp. The practice of bringing to criminal responsibility of children and adolescents younger than 14 years generally remained in the pre-revolutionary past. The RSFSR Criminal Code, adopted in 1922, established the lower limit of criminal liability for most 16 articles for years, and since 14 years, it has been attracted only for particularly serious crimes. As for the death penalty, it could not be applied to all underage citizens of the USSR even purely theoretically. Article 22 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR emphasized that "persons who have not attained the age of eighteen at the time of the crime and women who are in the state of pregnancy cannot be sentenced to death". That is, it was precisely the Soviet government that laid the paradigm of juvenile justice, which persists in Russia to this day, after the collapse of the Soviet political system.
However, at the beginning of the 1930's. The situation in the Soviet Union has changed somewhat. Complicated crime situation and the constant attempts of hostile states to carry out sabotage activities in the Soviet Union led to the fact that in 1935, a resolution of the CEC and SNK "On measures to combat juvenile delinquency" was actually adopted. It was signed by Mikhail Kalinin, Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, Vyacheslav Molotov, Chairman of the USSR SNK, and Ivan Akulov, Secretary of the USSR Central Committee. The ruling was published in the 7 April 1935 newspaper in Izvestia. The content of this resolution testified to the most serious tightening of the criminal procedure legislation in the country. So, what was introduced by this decision? Firstly, in paragraph 1 of the Resolution it was emphasized that criminal responsibility with the use of all measures of criminal punishment (that is, as it seems to be clear, including the highest measure, but there will be the most interesting nuance about which we describe below) for thefts, violence, injuries, injuries, murder and attempted murder, comes from 12-year-olds. Secondly, it was emphasized that incitement of minors to participate in criminal activities, speculation, prostitution, and poverty is punishable by imprisonment of at least 5 years in prison.
The explanation to this decree informed that article 22 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR regarding the non-use of the death penalty as the highest measure of social protection for minor citizens is also canceled. Thus, the Soviet government, it would seem, at first glance, officially allowed the sentencing of minors to capital punishment. It fit well into the overall vector of tightening state criminal policy in the middle of the 1930-s. Interestingly, even in the first post-revolutionary years, the death penalty was not applied to minor citizens of the country, although juvenile delinquency was very high, gangs of street children, who did not abhor the most brutal crimes, including murder, causing serious bodily harm, rape, were operating. However, at that time nobody even thought about sentencing even such brutal young criminals to criminal terms. What happened?
The fact is that before 1935, juvenile delinquents could only be sent to re-education. This allowed the most inveterate of them, without fear of such a “mild” punishment, which you cannot call a punishment, to commit crimes, being practically safe from punitive measures of justice. An article in the newspaper Pravda, published on April 9 of 1935, two days after the published ruling, said exactly that - that juvenile delinquents should not feel themselves unpunished. In other words, the decree was of a preventive nature and was aimed at preventing violent crimes involving minors. In addition, the death penalty was not generally assumed under all the articles listed. Even for the murder of one person, the death penalty was not supposed, unless the murder was accompanied by banditry, robbery, resistance to the authorities, etc. offenses.
One can argue for a long time about whether the death penalty is permissible for minors who themselves killed several people during robberies. But to understand such a measure, especially in those difficult years, it is quite possible. Moreover, in practice it has practically not been applied. It was necessary to try very hard to “achieve” the death penalty for himself at a minor age. The "bust" and with prisoners of conscience, who, according to the assertions of rather numerous anti-Soviet authors, were almost all shot down at a minor age. After all, article 58 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” was not included in the list of articles for which “all measures of influence” were allowed to minors. It is not listed in the 1935 ruling of the year. That is, there were simply no formal grounds for the execution of minors under this article.
A large number of 1920-1921 citizens are on the list of those shot at the Butovo firing range. of birth. It is possible that these were the same shot young men. But do not forget about the specifics of time. In 1936-1938 citizens of age were citizens of 1918-1920 of birth, i.e. born in the midst of the Civil War. Many of them could either intentionally hide their true data in order to receive less punishment, or simply not have accurate data on their date of birth. Checking the date of birth is often also not possible, so the "drops" could reach not just a year - two, but several years. Especially if it was a question of immigrants from a deep province, from national suburbs, where with registration and registration in 1918-1920. there was generally a huge problem.
There is still no documentary evidence of executions of minor citizens in Stalin's time, with the exception of a very dark and ambiguous example of the execution of four citizens of 1921 born in the Butovo firing range in 1937 and 1938. But it is separate история and with her, too, is not so simple. Let's start with the fact that these citizens (their names are Alexander Petrakov, Mikhail Tretyakov, Ivan Belokashin and Anatoly Plakuschy) are only the year of birth without exact dates. It is possible that they could reduce their age. They were convicted of criminal offenses, and already in prison they repeatedly violated the regime of detention, engaged in anti-Soviet agitation, looting of cellmates. However, the name of 13-year-old Misha Shamonin is also named among those shot at the Butovo training ground. Was it really so? After all, a photo of Misha Shamonin is easy to find in many mass media, but at the same time, by copying a photo from the file, for some reason no one tried to copy the file itself. And in vain. Either the doubts about the execution of an 13-year-old adolescent would be dispelled, or it would turn out that this is only a deliberate action aimed at influencing the public consciousness.
Of course, it is possible that extreme measures for juvenile offenders could be applied outside the legal field, including under the guise of murder when trying to escape, however, this is not about individual abuse of authority by police, security officers or police officers, but law enforcement practice. But she knew only isolated cases of the shooting of teenagers - four cases at the Butovo firing range (and that causes great doubts) and one more case - already eleven years after the death of I.V. Stalin.
In 1941, the age of criminal responsibility for all crimes other than those listed in the 1935 resolution of the year was determined to be 14 years. Note that in the 1940-ies, in the harsh wartime, cases of mass executions of juvenile offenders were also not noted. But the Soviet leadership used all possible measures to eradicate homelessness among children, to solve the problems of orphans and social orphans, which were more than enough and which represented a very fruitful environment for the development of juvenile delinquency. For this purpose, orphanages, boarding schools, Suvorov schools, evening schools developed, Komsomol organizations actively worked - and all this in order to ward minors from the street and from the criminal lifestyle.
In 1960, criminal liability for all crimes was determined in 16 years, and only for particularly serious crimes, criminal liability was provided for 14 years. However, it is precisely with Khrushchev’s, and not with the Stalinist period in the national history, that the only documented fact of the death penalty of a minor criminal is linked. This is the infamous Arkady Neyland case. 15-year-old boy was born in a dysfunctional family, in 12 years he was determined to boarding school, he studied poorly and ran away from the boarding school, had a drive to the police for petty hooliganism and theft. 27 January 1964, Neyland broke into the apartment of 37-year-old Larisa Kupreyeva in Leningrad and chopped both the woman and her three-year-old son George with an ax. Then Neyland photographed the naked body of a woman in indecent postures, intending to sell these pictures (pornography in the Soviet Union was rare and valued dearly), stole a camera and money, made a fire in the apartment to hide the traces of the crime and fled. Caught him in three days.
Minor Neyland was very confident that he was not facing a serious punishment, especially since he did not refuse to cooperate with the investigation. The crime of Neyland, its bloodthirstiness and cynicism then angered the entire Soviet Union. 17 February 1964 of the Year The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR published a decree on the possibility to use in exceptional cases the death penalty - shooting - against juvenile offenders. 23 March 1964, Neyland was sentenced to death and 11 August 1964 was shot. This decision caused numerous protests, including abroad. However, it is not very clear why the defenders of Neyland did not care at all about the fate of a young woman and her three-year-old child who were brutally murdered by a criminal. It is doubtful that such a murderer would have brought up even a decent, but more or less tolerable member of society. It is possible that he could later commit other murders.
Isolated instances of the death penalty for minors do not at all indicate the severity and cruelty of Soviet justice. Compared to justice in other countries, the Soviet court was indeed one of the most humane. For example, even in the United States, the death penalty for juvenile offenders was abolished only recently - in 2002. Before 1988, 13-year-olds were quietly executed in the USA. And it is in the United States that talk about the states of Asia and Africa. In modern Russia, juvenile delinquents often commit the most brutal crimes, but receive very lenient punishments for this — by law, a minor cannot receive more than 10 years of imprisonment, even if he kills several people. Thus, convicted in 16 years, he goes to freedom in 26 years, and even earlier.