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Author: Mikhail Antonov
This volume examines the elements of formalism and decisionism in Russian legal thinking and, also, the impact of conservatism on the interplay of these elements. The actual conservative narratives, about the distinctiveness of Russian law, reveal certain features of the intellectual culture that is transmitted in legal education, scholarship and practice. These narratives are based on the idea of sovereignty understood as legal omnipotence of the state. References to sovereignty justify the requirement of legality in the sense of fidelity to the letter of the law. They also often serve as a rationale for crafting exceptions to constitutional non-discrimination principles as they are applied to political, religious, sexual and other minorities.
Author: Mikhail Antonov

This essay examines methodological nuances connected with historical research of Russian law. These nuances are studied against the backdrop of two books published respectively by Professor Ferdinand Feldbrugge and Professor William Pomeranz on Russian legal history. The methods employed by these authors reveal specific features of Russian legal language and mentality which can be helpful in explaining the dissimilarities between legal and political developments in Russia and the West. They place particular emphasis on the development of legal language and productively analyze many current issues of Russian law through the lens of history of concepts. These books are evaluated as important contributions to comparative analysis of Russian and Western legal cultures. The key events of Russian legal history are considered in a perspective that sheds light on the current challenges faced by Russian law.

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Mikhail Antonov

This paper analyzes the cultural constraints imposed in the Russian legal system by the prevailing social philosophy, which is characterized by a significant degree of religious conservatism and communitarianism. This conservatism is predictably opposed to sexual minorities and to those who want to defend or justify them. The author concludes that this philosophy strongly affects decision-making in Russian courts, and can sometimes overrule the provisions of the Russian Constitution and the laws that formally grant protection to sexual minorities. In turn, this conservative social philosophy and communitarian morality are based on religious patterns that are still shaping the mindsets and attitudes of Russians. These attitudes cannot be ignored by judges and other actors in the Russian legal system, who to some extent are subject to the general perception of what is just, acceptable, and reasonable in society, and are factually bound by this perception.

In: Journal of Law, Religion and State
In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Mikhail Antonov

Abstract

This article examines the background and the framework of discussions about the concept of sovereignty and its limits. It begins with a short historical analysis of the processes which took place in Soviet Russia leading to the 'parade of sovereignties' in the early 1990s. Afterwards, the author sketches the different approaches and doctrines upheld by the Russian Constitutional Court in several landmark decisions concerning sovereignty problems. The article focuses on the vertical dimension of sovereignty, i.e., on different conceptions adopted by federal and regional powers in post-Soviet Russia regarding the legal status of the member-republics (subjects) of the Russian Federation. The development of the doctrine of the Constitutional Court of Russia in this matter is quite illustrative as to the legal arguments used to protect the integrity of the Russian Federation against the diverse disintegrative strategies pursued by the regions.

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Mikhail Antonov

The present review analyzes the key ideas of Justice Gadzhiev and Judge Posner on legal methodology and tasks in legal education. These ideas are considered in the context of two recent books by these authors. Both books appeared in 2016 and both question certain principal dimensions of pragmatism in the law, to which both Gadzhiev and Posner are subscribed. This review essay examines the links between the respective ideas of these two authors on methods of legal research, on judicial process and on teaching law, in addition to providing an overview of the intellectual culture of the us and Russian legal orders.

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Mikhail Antonov

This chapter examines a number of theoretical difficulties related to the implementation, in Russia, of the decisions and awards of foreign courts and arbitral tribunals. Along with the normative conditions for recognizing and enforcing foreign decisions, the author draws attention to the educational background of legal professionals— especially judges—in Russia. It is suggested that the statist conception of law inherited from Soviet legal scholarship implicitly leads to the contemporary Russian legal doctrine of negating the obligatory force of decisions from foreign courts. In the opinion of the author, the core of this conception resides in the traditional concept of sovereignty, which excludes the direct effect of legal acts made by foreign states, private arbitration tribunals, and international organizations. Nevertheless, there have been signs of a change in the attitude of the Russian judiciary in several key rulings by commercial courts. The author concludes that one now can observe seeing tendencies indicative of the development of a different concept of law in the mentality of legal professionals in Russia.

In: Review of Central and East European Law
Author: Mikhail Antonov

Soviet law is often viewed as based on legal positivism, while its ideological background and the practices of political interference are considered in an extralegal (political) dimension. This logic prompts conclusions about the dual character of Soviet law where prerogative and normative dimensions constituted two parallel systems. Similar opinions are sometimes expressed about Russian law, which is a continuator of Soviet law both normatively and factually. The present paper analyzes this approach and suggests that the alleged dualism can be considered in the light of the basic presuppositions and methods of the Soviet (Russian) theory of law and state. This jurisprudence was and still is based on a combination of formalism and anti-formalism (realism) which provided a certain degree of unity and coherence of legal knowledge. After the end of Soviet rule, legal theory in Russia still orients itself to this symbiosis of positivism and realism which underlies legal education and legal scholarship. The paper addresses the philosophical and methodological origins of this Russian (Soviet) legal realism, and argues that the particular character of Russian (Soviet) law can be explained against the backdrop of this theoretical combination that combines conservative social philosophy, a Schmittean conception of exception, methods of legal positivism and the spirit of legal nihilism. These particularities and their methodological background are, in the author’s opinion, among the distinguishing features of Russian law and legal culture.

In: Review of Central and East European Law
In: Formalism, Decisionism and Conservatism in Russian Law
In: Formalism, Decisionism and Conservatism in Russian Law