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Book chapter
Modern Russian and Soviet Drug Suppression

Vasilyev P.

In bk.: The Oxford Handbook of Global Drug History. Oxford University Press, 2022. Ch. 20. P. 373-388.

Working paper
Language and Cultural Contacts in the Russian-Nordic Borderlands: Change and Continuity

Vlakhov A., Deresh A., Mironova E. et al.

Linguistics. WP BRP. НИУ ВШЭ, 2021. No. 108.

We used to have Imperial legality, Revolutionary legality, Socialist legality, and now Sovereign legality

On October 16, 2014, Tatiana Borisova, an Associate Professor at History Department, National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg took part in a panel, entitled  Russia’s Legal Trajectories: Law in Action and Question, 1830 to 2014 at the NYU Jordan Center.

Tatiana Borisova’s research focuses on the codification of Russian legal tradition. She stated that her presentation would be different from the ones she had done in the past in that it would be “a top down perspective – an official concept provided by the elites in the 19th century.” “I see it as ‘legality with adjectives’ – we used to have Imperial legality, Revolutionary legality, Socialist legality, and now Sovereign legality. This is our Russian legal tradition of adjectives,” she said.

In Russia, Borisova stated, legality is about order. “Whenever there is a public talk about legality, it is about fostering order,” she added, and “justice is a missing point.”  Borisova’s main question was: why is Russian law fostered by Russian authorities? She analyzed the work of Harold Berman, who traced the history of authority of law in America in order to understand “why the authority of law did not succeed in Russia.”

Furthermore, by looking at various collections of legislature beginning from the mid 19th century – including the Digest of the Laws of the Russian Empire (Svod zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii) – she was able to conclude that law in Russia was often approached with an instrumentalist and formalist lens. Also, the Digest emphasized the difference of Russian legality with the West, basing its reasonings on the difference in Russian traditions and mentality. The Digest thus presented Russian legality as incomparable to universalist legalities. For example, an emphasis on the enforcement and power predominated the Digest. If power is concentrated in autocracy, what kind of justice can we be talking about? She concluded by suggesting that “the system of Russian legal sources mirror political structure where administrative and legal structures of power have not been separated.”


Source the NYU Jordan Center