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Constructing Legal Culture through Institutional Reforms: The Russian Experience

Marina Kurkchiyan
Publication date: 
Mon, 13 Feb 2012

This report, published in collaboration with the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, examines the legal culture in Russia and challenges the received wisdom from the West.

The familiar stereotypes suggest that there is no effective law in Russia and that most significant decisions are made either as a consequence of corruption or of political intervention.
In practice, the relationship between law and everyday life in Russia is complicated, and in spite of extensive commentary, the central question of precisely what contribution law makes in organizing Russian society remains unanswered.
The report outlines the distinctive characteristics of Russian legal culture and describes the views of a group of experts on Russian law, politics, and economics to assess the effects of the country’s many institutional reforms since 1990 on the legal mentality and behaviour of the people.
By assessing a range of issues such as the history of legal nihilism in Russia, the effects of economic freedoms and Western influences on the rule of law, and cases such as the Khodorkovsky trial, the report concludes that we are currently witnessing the emergence of an altogether new and unique form of legal culture in Russia.