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.
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.
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.
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.
This article examines the correlation between the concepts of sovereignty, human rights, and democracy in Russian legal and political debate, analyzing this correlation in the context of Russian philosophical discourse. It argues that sovereignty often is used as a powerful argument which allows the setting aside of international humanitarian standards and the formal constitutional guarantees of human rights. This conflict between sovereignty and human rights also recurs in other countries, and many legal scholars are demanding the revision or even abandonment of the concept of sovereignty. In Russia, this conflict is aggravated by some characteristic features of the traditional mentality frequently favoring statism and collective interests over individual ones, and by the state building a ‘power vertical’ subordinating regional and other particularistic interests to the central power. These features and policies are studied in the context of the Slavophile-Westernizer philosophical divide. This divide reveals the pros and contras put forward by the Russian supporters of the isolationist (conservative) policy throughout contemporary history—especially in the sovereignty debates in recent years. The 1993 Russian Constitution contains many declaratory statements about human rights and democracy, but their formulations are vague and, thus far, have had little concrete effect in court battles where the application of international humanitarian law from time to time has been counterbalanced by the concerns of the protection of sovereignty. These concerns coincide with isolationist and authoritarian policies, which in 2006 led to their amalgamation in the concept of ‘sovereign democracy’. This concept is considered in this article to be a recurrence of the Russian conservative tradition. Even though the concept in its literal meaning has been abandoned by its author and supporters, most of its ideas remain on the cusp of the official political discourse which reproduces the pivotal axes of Russian political philosophy of the XIX century.