The Semenchuk Case of 1936: Storytelling and Propaganda above the Law in the Soviet Criminal Trial

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Anna LukinaHertford College, University of Oxford, Catte Street, Oxford ox1 3 bw, UK,

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This article applies the concept of legal narrative to one of the Soviet show trials of the 1930s, the Semenchuk Case (1936), and examines its interlink with the refetishization of law initiated by Andrei Vyshinskii. While distinguishing Soviet legal narrative as a special type of storytelling in criminal cases, this analysis describes the substantive and formal patterns that arose within this narrative type as a direct consequence of the ideological goals of Soviet courts. Within Soviet legal narrative, the accounts of the defence, prosecution, and the judgment, all relate closely to historical context, and the broader political and ideological agendas of decision-makers, which extend beyond the facts of the case.

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